Pacquiao now official RP flag-bearer for Olympics

It’s official. Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, fresh from his ninth round knockout of David Diaz in their June 28 title fight in Las Vegas, will carry the country’s colors in the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics on August 8. “Yes, it’s official. Miguel Molina has given way to Pacquiao,” said Joey Romasanta, spokesman of the Philippine Olympic Committee.

Romasanta said that they are currently working on securing Pacquiao’s accreditation card as a member of the Philippine delegation.

“The only problem is [the] timeline, insofar as the pre-valid card or accreditation is concerned,” he said, explaining that if Pacquiao fails to get accrediation before the delegation departs for Beijing, officials of the Philippine contingent can get it for him once they arrive at the site.

Romasanta said that if that scenario happens, the World Boxing Council lightweight champ can apply for a regular visa to China. Once there, there will be an accreditation center to attend to his needs.

The POC’s executive committee headed by POC president Jose Cojuangco met Wednesday morning to take up the issue of Pacquiao’s designation as flag bearer in place of multi-titled swimmer Molina.

Earlier, veteran sports executive Mauricio Martelino said he faces a dilemma on how to make the change since the accreditation deadline was last April 15. With just one month to go before the August 8 opening, he can only promise to make the request and do his best.

Romasanta said he believes that since it was President Arroyo who “expressed the desire” to have Pacquiao, the only Filipino and Asian to win four world boxing titles,as flag bearer, “the Chinese embassy might as well lend a helping hand to convince the organizing committee” of the Beijing Olympics.

The other problem, although of a minor nature, was that the inclusion of Pacquiao would disrupt the ratio of officials to athletes. Romasant, however, said,”We can resolve that easily since Pacquiao won’t be there all the time.” With Ronnie Nathanielsz

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