The IOC’s “no” to Manny Pacquiao: when the rules are unfriendly, but necessary

The 45-year-old Philippine champion expected a “universal” place to compete in Paris 2024. However, there is a rule that prohibits boxers over 40 from competing in the Olympic Games.

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Pacquiao was world champion in eight organizations.
Pacquiao was world champion in eight organizations.

Manny Pacquiao is hardly the only 45-year-old athlete who dreams of closing his sports career with an Olympic Game. Let’s say that, of the illustrious, he is probably one of the few who will not be able to indulge himself.

For some it may be absurd that Paris 2024 refuses the possibility of having a new boxing show at Roland Garros (men don’t live on tennis only). However, it is not Pacquiao specifically nor is it Olympism that denies him the desire. The regulations prohibiting athletes over 40 years of age from participating in Olympic boxing competitions must have clinical arguments that go far beyond the significance of the surname of the great Manny.

Without going any further, not a few youth gymnasts have to wait until the age of 16 to have their Olympic debut. Whether we like it or not, they are measures that are born from the analysis of people who understand the subject much more than we do. There is a matter of safety and physical safeguarding of long-distance athletes.

Philippine boxing legend Manny Pacquiao’s request to participate in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games was rejected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The head of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) made the announcement on Sunday, after sending a “special request” from Manila in October 2023 so that the 45-year-old world champion could participate in the 2024 Games in Paris. However, there is a strict rule that prohibits any boxer over the age of 40 from competing in the Olympic Games.

The Philippine Olympic Committee hoped that Pacquiao would be granted a “place of universality”, which is reserved for athletes from countries that have difficulty qualifying for the Olympic Games. The IOC informed the POC that it had already sent to the National Olympic Committees (NOC) and boxing federations the classification system for the Paris Games, including the rule that sets the age limit at 40 years. Additionally, he explained that the invitation for universality applies to NOC who had an average of less than eight athletes per sport or event in the last two Olympic Games (Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020). Therefore, Pacquiao will not be able to compete in the big multi-sport event of the year, where he never participated before.

Pacquiao confessed feeling sad and disappointed at the IOC's refusal.
Pacquiao confessed feeling sad and disappointed at the IOC's refusal.

After learning of the IOC decision, Manny Pacquiao, who retired from professional boxing in 2021 to run for president of the Philippines, confessed in a statement: “Although I am very sad and disappointed, I understand and accept the age limit rules.” Additionally, he said he will continue to support and encourage Filipino athletes who compete in the Olympic Games: “My intention is to bring pride and honor to boxing in my country in the near future.”