Taekwondo Olympic qualifying tilt in peri?

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    THE Philippine Taekwondo Association is anxious about the developments over the novel coronavirus epidemic in China, fearing that it might force the scrapping of the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament set April 10 to 12 in Wuxi, China.

    “We have already made inquiries (with the World Taekwondo Federation) regarding the Olympic qualifier in Wuxi but so far have not received any word from them,” Stephen Fernandez, a senior PTA official and senior deputy chief of mission of the PH squad in the last 30th Southeast Asian Games, told Malaya Business-Insight.

    Recent reports from the China Daily, the official organ of the Chinese government, said that nine people coming from Wuhan, the epicenter of the deadly virus, were put under compulsory quarantine by medical authorities in the city located in Eastern Jianshu province.

    Fernandez said the PTA was concerned about the possible transfer and rescheduling of the Asian Olympic qualifier since it is only competition left for the Filipino taekwondo jins to earn tickets to the Tokyo Olympics in July.

    Unlike other National Sports Associations such as judo and karate, the association has been unable to send its campaigners to the taekwondo Olympic ranking competitions because of the prohibitive costs of sending them to the events, he said.

    It will be recalled that the PTA organized the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament in 2015 in Manila, with Kirstie Elaine Allora securing a berth to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

    Recent Southeast Asian Games gold medalists Samuel Morrison and Pauline Louise Lopez are the PTA’s top prospects in the Olympic qualifier and are set to compete in the men’s +80-kilogram and women’s -57-kg categories, respectively.

    It will be a daunting challenge for both athletes since only the gold and silver medalist in the weight categories will qualify for Tokyo.

    The Philippines has always had a taekwondo representative to the quadrennial meet since it became a medal sport in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, with the exception being the 2012 edition held in London, which the PTA considered as a huge debacle.