MANILA, Philippines, March 16 ------ Hidilyn Diaz won't get to complete the required 6 Olympic qualifying events as Colombia, the host of the next weightlifting qualifiers, issued a travel ban on Asians and Europeans amid the coronavirus outbreak. Diaz was slated to compete in the Tokyo 2020 qualifier in Cali, Colombia but the country imposed a travel ban on foreigners on Saturday, March 14. The 2016 Rio Olympic silver medalist needs to compete in just one more qualifier to seal her return to the global showpiece. Despite the hurdle, the 28-year-old Filipina will continue her training in Malaysia with her team.
Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas (SWP) president Monico Puentevella said he's requesting the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) for a review of the Olympic qualifying requirements. Puentevella plans to propose that the required qualifiers be reduced to 5 events instead of 6 "due to the unforeseen circumstances affecting not only weightlifting but all sports." "I’m optimistic that the IWF Board will reconsider our plea and resolve this problem at hand in fairness to all associations worldwide," said Puentevella as the IWF Board meets on Sunday, March 15, in Lausanne, Switzerland to tackle the agenda.
Diaz has virtually qualified for the Olympics as she ranks No. 5 in the women's 55kg category with 3,717.0982 points behind Chinese weightlifters Jiang Huihua (4,667.8878), Liao Qiuyun (4,288.9622), Zhang Wangqiong (4,212.6639) and Li Yajun (4,099.0223). But since only one lifter can represent a country per event in the Olympics, Diaz will likely take the No. 2 spot. Diaz is riding on a three-gold conquest in the 2020 Roma World Cup and a 2019 Southeast Asian Games golden performance last December.