The news that came out from the International Olympic Committee, regarding the non-inclusion of some sports in 2024 Sumner Olympics in Paris, certainly was not a good Christmas gift to Philippine sports.
Modern pentathlon is not an issue for us, but boxing and weightlifting?
Oh boy, just for the record, since we started participating in the modern Olympic Games a hundred years ago, we have won a total of 14 medals, one gold, five silvers, and eight bronzes.
And eight of them came from boxing, including three from Tokyo Olympians Carlo Paalam (silver), Nesthy Petecio (silver) and Eumir Marcial (bronze). On other hand, two are from weightlifting, both courtesy of Hidilyn Diaz, who won the country's first and only gold in Tokyo, together with her silver in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Featherweight Anthony Villanueva could have been our first gold medalist in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics but was supposedly robbed of it in the finals, while light flyweight Onyok Velasco copped his silver in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Other boxers, who bagged bronze medals were light flyweight Roel Velasco in 1992 in Spain, another light flyweight Leopoldo Serrantes in 1988 in Seoul and Anthony's father, Jose Villanueva, as a bantamweight in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.
I would also like to mention three-time weightlifting Olympian Salvador del Rosario, also a world champion in 1970, for his achievements in his sport.
And now, it will be difficult to follow these exploits, but not impossible as both sports can make a comeback, and I believe they will.
Look at the reasons cited by the IOC. For boxing, it is because of the corruption of its international federation, now the International Boxing Federation from the previous AIBA run by Anwar Choudhry.
Transparency and integrity of judges are the other factors in boxing, while in the case of weightlifting, it is uncontrolled doping as between 2008 and 2012, there were 60 lifters who failed drug tests, which means corruption, too.
For modern heptathlon, the sport might have become irrelevant already as the IOC moves towards attracting a wider and younger base of audience.
And look at the three new sports that have come in, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing, all relatively new ones and more identified with the younger generations. Breakdancing, to be called breaking, makes its debut in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Now look at some sports, which were taken out of the Olympics, but managed to make it back–softball/baseball and golf for instance in 2020, while the latter did it in 2016, though softball /baseball are on the outside looking in again in 2024, but hoping to resurface in 2028 in Los Angeles.
Host cities now are are given leeway to include a sport or so for their hosting year. That is what happened to softball/baseball as baseball is very popular in Japan, and that is why both sports are confident of making it back in 2028, being very popular sports in the United States.
But that is not the case for us as there is simply no way we can afford to host an Olympic Games just to re include boxing and weightlifting, but rather we wait for things to improve in both situations.
Being very popular all over the world, boxing may just beat weightlifting in making it again to the Olympic Games, with the latter to follow, but assuming that they meet the conditions given by IOC.
What I do not foresee is seeing such sports like tug-of-war, pelota, croquet, cricket, and lacrosse making it back in the forseeable future.
Now what can we do here in the Philippines to see boxing and weightlifting back in the Olympics?
Hope and pray.