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SPORTS NEWS THE PAST WEEKS
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

OLYMPICS: PINOY ATHLETES TAKE A BREATHER, ATTEND SUNDAY MASS[RELATED: Scammers, bug spray companies capitalizing on Zika fears]


AUGUST 1 -Members of the Philippine delegation during Sunday mass inside their quarters in Rio. | Abac Cordero 
RIO DE JANEIRO - It was relatively quiet at the Philippine headquarters Sunday, with most of its athletes spending more time giving themselves ample time to rest. Except for a few, including swimmers Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jessie Khing Lacuna, who opted to train in the afternoon, the Filipino athletes stayed indoors most of the day. The athletes will all get back to work Monday or five days before the opening ceremony. The day started with a mass officiated by a Brazilian priest inside the Philippine quarters located at Building 2 of the Athletes Village. The Filipinos packed the living room of the condominium unit that serves as secretariat and home to a handful female athletes and team officials. The mass ended with the priest offering prayers for the athletes. “I pray for you, your families and your country. If you are happy to be here, then everybody in your country is happy for you,” said the priest. Taekwondo jin Kirstie Elaine Alora was a bit under the weather. However, team physician Dr. Ferdinand Brawner said there’s nothing much to worry about. READ MORE...RELATED, Scammers, bug spray companies capitalizing on Zika fears...

Expert to Rio athletes: 'Don't put your head under water' at the Rio bay[RELATED: What's in the water? Pollution fears taint Rio's picturesque bay ahead of Olympics]


AUGUST 1 -A man washes himself in the polluted waters of Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, July 30, 2016 (Monday in Manila). While local authorities including Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes have acknowledged the failure of the city’s water cleanup efforts, calling it a “lost chance” and a “shame,” Olympic officials continue to insist Rio’s waterways will be safe for athletes and visitors. | AP Photo/Felipe Dana
RIO DE JANEIRO — Just days ahead of the Olympic Games the waterways of Rio de Janeiro are as filthy as ever, contaminated with raw human sewage teeming with dangerous viruses and bacteria, according to a 16-month-long study commissioned by The Associated Press. Not only are some 1,400 athletes at risk of getting violently ill in water competitions, but the AP's tests indicate that tourists also face potentially serious health risks on the golden beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana. The AP's survey of the aquatic Olympic and Paralympic venues has revealed consistent and dangerously high levels of viruses from the pollution, a major black eye on Rio's Olympic project that has set off alarm bells among sailors, rowers and open-water swimmers. The first results of the study published over a year ago showed viral levels at up to 1.7 million times what would be considered worrisome in the United States or Europe. At those concentrations, swimmers and athletes who ingest just three teaspoons of water are almost certain to be infected with viruses that can cause stomach and respiratory illnesses and more rarely heart and brain inflammation — although whether they actually fall ill depends on a series of factors including the strength of the individual's immune system. READ MORE...RELATED, What's in the water? Pollution fears taint Rio's picturesque bay ahead of Olympics...

ALSO: Pinoys in Barong draw attention in Rio flag-raising rites
[RELATED: Refugee team bright spot in Rio’s troubled Olympics]


AUGUST 7 -The Philippine delegation in their ‘barong.’ ABAC CORDERO
RIO DE JANEIRO – The Filipinos stood tall in their native “barong.” While delegates from four other nations came to the flag-raising ceremony in track suits and shorts, the Filipinos were dressed to kill, arriving at the Olympic Plaza in their national costume. Immediately, the Pinoys made heads turn. Delegates from other countries kept asking about their “barong,” telling the Filipinos, from the officials to the athletes, how pleasing they were. One asked where he could get one. The formal flag-raising inside the Athletes Village are done in batches, and the Filipinos were grouped Tuesday with delegates from Japan, Panama, Denmark and Antigua and Barbuda. The mayor of the Athletes Village, two-time Olympic medalist Janeth Arcain of Brazil, welcomed the delegates as dancers in leafy costumes provided the festive atmosphere. Arcain, who won Olympic medals in women’s basketball, said the Olympics “is all about fair play” and said the delegates should consider Brazil their home. “Our home is your home,” she said. One by one, the flags were raised and the national anthems played. The Philippines was third in line after Panama and Denmark. READ MORE...RELATED,
Refugee team bright spot in Rio’s troubled Olympics...

ALSO:
Pacquiao gets committee on Sports; Lacson on games & amusements
[Resolution #68: Senate split games, amusement and sports panel]
[RELATED: New Filipino Senator Manny Pacquiao Wants Some Criminals To Hang – Literally]


AUGUST 1 -Photo courtesy of TahoeNews.com
Neophyte statesman Manny Pacquiao took a committee chairmanship after the Senate adopted Senate Resolution No. 68 that separated the Senate committee on games, amusement, and sports into two new standing committees. As a result, Pacquiao has been awarded with the chairmanship of the now Senate committee on sports while Senator Panfilo Lacson got the Senate committee on games and amusement. Pacquiao has now two committees, including the committee on public works approved last week by the Senate, which constituted the first 21 standing Senate committees. On Monday, the Senate announced the chairmanship and members of the 12 more committees. These are the committees on government owned and controlled corporations given to Senator Richard Gordon; climate change to Senator Loren Legarda; banks, financial institutions and currencies to Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero; youth to Senator Joel Villanueva; and, economic affairs to Senator Sherwin Gatchalian. Senator Leila de Lima got the committee on electoral reforms and people’s participation; Senator Paolo Benigno ‘Bam’ Aquino IV with the committee on science and technology; Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri with the cooperatives; Senator Sonny Angara with local government and Senator Grace Poe with the Senate committee on public information and mass media. The Senate will continue constituting the remaining standing Senate committees on Tuesday. FULL REPORT. RELATED,
New Filipino Senator Manny Pacquiao Wants Some Criminals To Hang – Literally...

ALSO: Pacquiao adds spice to 2016 PBA All-Stars
[RELATED: Pacquiao to see action in PBA All-Star Weekend]


AUGUST 2 Manny Pacquiao
Boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao, listed as playing coach of the Mahindra Enforcers in the official PBA roster, is lending his presence in the 2016 PBA All-Star Extravaganza, suiting up with the Stalwarts team in the All-Star Blitz Game on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Pacquiao, who has played couples of games with Mahindra (formerly KIA) last season, is teaming up with legends Alvin Patrimonio, Ronnie Magsanoc, Nic Belasco and Topex Robinson in the Stalwarts team that also includes PBA youngsters Chris Banchero, David Semerad, Raymond Almazan and PBA D-League stars Mike Tolomia, Russel Escoto, Raphael Banal and Bryan Cruz. Legends Johnny Abarrientos, Noli Locsin, Richard del Rosario and Bong Ravena, meanwhile, banner the Team Greats that also features PBA players Maverick Ahanmisi, Kevin Alas, Anthony Semerad, Ian Sangalang and D-League mainstays Ed Daquioag, Mac Belo, Roger Pogoy and Jonathan Grey. Pacquiao is likely to figure in curious matchup with Abarrientos to highlight the Blitz Game which serves as the main dish in the All-Star Friday to be spiced up by skills competitions including the Obstacle Challenge, the three-point shootout and the slam-dunk contest. Terrence Romeo, Rey Guevarra and Jeric Fortuna defend their crowns in the three-point shootout, slam-dunk contest and obstacle challenge, respectively. Also entered in the dunking competition are James Forrester, Moala Tautuaa, Chris Newsome and Franklin Bonifacio while James Yap, Jeff Chan, Alex Cabagnot, RJ Jazul, Jayjay Helterbrand, Almond Vosotros, Nino Canaleta, Garvo Lanete, Simon Enciso and Troy Rosario try to snatch the Three-Point King title. READ MORE...RELATED, Pacquiao to see action in PBA All-Star Weekend...

ALSO: Pacquiao picks Vargas for Nov. 5 return, says Koncz


AUGUST 4 -Manny Pacquiao and Jessie Vargas
It appears that WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas has won the Manny Pacquiao sweepstakes. Pacquiao’s top adviser Mike Koncz told The Los Angeles Times’ Lance Pugmire that their camp has picked Vargas as the opponent for the Filipino icon’s comeback fight on November 5.
oncz’s revelation came a few days after Top Rank Inc. chief Bob Arum said he will visit the Philippines sometime next week to finalize the details for Pacquiao’s return. While it was expected that Pacquiao’s opponent will be determined during the meeting with Arum, Koncz said they will rather focus on the venue. “That’s (finalizing the venue) the essence of the meeting,” Koncz told The Los Angeles Times. “Not choosing the opponent. That’s already been done.” Although Arum has already booked the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas as the venue for Pacquiao’s ring return, Koncz said they are also exploring Dubai as an alternative. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Pinoy athletes take a breather, attend Sunday mass


Members of the Philippine delegation during Sunday mass inside their quarters in Rio. | Abac Cordero

RIO DE JANEIRO, AUGUST 8 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Abac Cordero  Updated August 1, 2016 - It was relatively quiet at the Philippine headquarters Sunday, with most of its athletes spending more time giving themselves ample time to rest.

Except for a few, including swimmers Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jessie Khing Lacuna, who opted to train in the afternoon, the Filipino athletes stayed indoors most of the day.

The athletes will all get back to work Monday or five days before the opening ceremony.

The day started with a mass officiated by a Brazilian priest inside the Philippine quarters located at Building 2 of the Athletes Village.

The Filipinos packed the living room of the condominium unit that serves as secretariat and home to a handful female athletes and team officials.

The mass ended with the priest offering prayers for the athletes.

“I pray for you, your families and your country. If you are happy to be here, then everybody in your country is happy for you,” said the priest.

Taekwondo jin Kirstie Elaine Alora was a bit under the weather. However, team physician Dr. Ferdinand Brawner said there’s nothing much to worry about.

READ MORE...

Alora was given proper medication and was advised to rest.

Dr. Martin Camara, a noted chiropractic specialist back home, has joined the delegation from Manila, and checked on a handful athletes.

Long jumper Marestella Torres-Sunang had her pelvis and back “realigned,” and said she felt much better after a short session.

“It’s like a car that with poor alignment will not run well,” said Camara, who did some twisting Marestella’s back and neck areas.

Weightlifters Hidilyn Diaz and Nestor Colonia were also given time to rest. Sunday marked the first full week of stay the Pinoy delegation here.

The other athletes who are already here are Ian Lariba of table tennis and boxers Rogen Ladon and Charly Suarez.

Arriving soon are hurdler Eric Cray, marathoner Mary Joy Tabal and golfer Miguel Tabuena.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Scammers, bug spray companies capitalizing on Zika fears By Linda A. Johnson (Associated Press) | Updated August 4, 2016 - 4:30pm 1 0 googleplus0 0


A worker with an anti Zika shirt watches tennis practice at the Olympic Tennis Center at the Olympic park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016 (Thursday in Manila).

The Summer 2016 Olympics is scheduled to open Aug. 5. | AP Photo/Charlie Riedel TRENTON, N.J. — Worried you might catch the Zika virus? Scammers and bug spray companies are counting on it.

Marketers know this is the time to pounce: The summer Olympics are about to start in Brazil, where the recent Zika epidemic started, and 14 mosquito-borne cases of Zika were identified recently in the Miami area, the first in the US So companies and entrepreneurs are capitalizing on Zika fears wherever mosquitoes buzz, hawking questionable products like anti-Zika wristbands and promoting all manner of mosquito repellents for people and pets.

"From a marketing point of view, it's a golden opportunity," said Jonathan Day, a University of Florida mosquito expert and researcher.

In a first for a bugspray, Off! became the official insect repellent supplier for an Olympic Games, and agreed to send 115,000 sprays, spritzers and towelettes to the Rio Olympics. Rival Cutter in June signed on to sponsor the US men's and women's national soccer teams.

Both companies are likely to benefit from Zika fears far beyond supplying athletes and fans in Brazil. Pharmacies in New York City, for example, have Off! displays warning consumers to "Repel the mosquitoes that may carry the Zika virus." The tropical mosquito responsible for the Zika epidemic, called Aedes aegypti, is not found in New York, though state health officials still recommend that people use bug spray.

Zika is usually spread when the mosquito picks it up by biting an infected person and bites someone else. It is worrying disease, of course, especially for pregnant women. Its symptoms are often so mild that most people don't know they have it, but it has been found to cause severe birth defects if women are infected while pregnant.

Health officials say people in Zika-affected areas should take steps to avoid getting or spreading the disease by wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts and using insect repellent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifically mentions brands like Off! and Cutter in its recommendations .

Zika can also be transmitted by sex, so the CDC recommends using condoms to prevent spreading the virus if one partner is infected, or might be.

In a marketer's hand, that kind of recommendation turns a condom into a Zika-fighting device. Australia's Ansell Ltd. is supplying that country's Olympic team with "anti-Zika condoms" lubricated with an antiviral gel. But that gel has never been tested outside a laboratory, and experts say any condom will do the job.

Some enterprising marketers are trying to make a few dollars by rebranding products as Zika fighters.

Among them is a Louisiana exterminator who is hawking a $1,678 outdoor mosquito misting system as the "Zika Cube." Its maker, Katy, Texas-based Pynamite Mosquito Misting Systems, said it didn't authorize sales of its product under that name and will order the man to stop, though Pynamite's website does say "effective mosquito control in your yard is the best way to prevent Zika and other mosquito-related diseases."

A website called "anti-zika.com" offers $6 "anti-zika" repellent with a "formula specifically designed to combat the Zika virus." Its website says the stuff has similar ingredients to mainstream brands, but offers no details about its "specifically designed" formula. The company hasn't responded to a request for comment.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says his office has sent letters to seven companies, telling them to stop marketing products as "Zika-preventive" or "Zika-protective."

While some companies are using Zika worries to goose sales of products that could prevent mosquito bites, others are claiming benefits far beyond what regulators have verified.

Officials are warning consumers away from ultrasound bug zappers, $20 insecticide-containing wrist and ankle bands such as "Mosquitno," and "Spotz," Citronella-infused stickers that adhere to clothing and supposedly repel mosquitoes for three days. The Federal Trade Commission this spring fined one wristband maker $300,000 for falsely claiming its bands create a five-foot mosquito barrier protecting wearers for days.

Experts say to stick with what works, like products with DEET. Research by Day, the University of Florida entomologist, found that while repellents approved by federal agencies that contain citronella, lemon eucalyptus oil and other herbal extracts provide some protection, it can last from just a few minutes to an hour or so. In contrast, he found products containing 23.8 percent DEET, such as Off! Deep Woods, can protect against mosquito bites for 3 to 6 hours.

And that's what most people are buying, whether they are near Zika-carrying mosquitoes or not: Off! maker SC Johnson in February ramped up to 24-hour, 7-day a week production, the family-owned company says.

Spectrum Brands Inc. said retailers have seen sales double over last year's for its repellent brands, Cutter and Repel. It's also boosted production, and started mentioning Zika on its repellent cans.

"We don't want to scare consumers," brand manager Ashley Henderson says. "We want to empower them."

The maker of Mosquito Bits and Mosquito Dunks, tablets containing bacteria that the company says kill mosquito larvae in water, said it's having one of its best sales years ever. Demand has spiked in Texas and across the Southwest — and in less-than-tropical locations, too.

"We're getting calls from as far north as Canada," said company vice president Zach Cohen.


PHILSTAR

Expert to Rio athletes: 'Don't put your head under water' By Jenny Barchfield (Associated Press) | Updated August 1, 2016 - 4:00pm 16 81 googleplus0 0


A man washes himself in the polluted waters of Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, July 30, 2016 (Monday in Manila). While local authorities including Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes have acknowledged the failure of the city’s water cleanup efforts, calling it a “lost chance” and a “shame,” Olympic officials continue to insist Rio’s waterways will be safe for athletes and visitors. | AP Photo/Felipe Dana

RIO DE JANEIRO — Just days ahead of the Olympic Games the waterways of Rio de Janeiro are as filthy as ever, contaminated with raw human sewage teeming with dangerous viruses and bacteria, according to a 16-month-long study commissioned by The Associated Press.

Not only are some 1,400 athletes at risk of getting violently ill in water competitions, but the AP's tests indicate that tourists also face potentially serious health risks on the golden beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana.

The AP's survey of the aquatic Olympic and Paralympic venues has revealed consistent and dangerously high levels of viruses from the pollution, a major black eye on Rio's Olympic project that has set off alarm bells among sailors, rowers and open-water swimmers.

The first results of the study published over a year ago showed viral levels at up to 1.7 million times what would be considered worrisome in the United States or Europe. At those concentrations, swimmers and athletes who ingest just three teaspoons of water are almost certain to be infected with viruses that can cause stomach and respiratory illnesses and more rarely heart and brain inflammation — although whether they actually fall ill depends on a series of factors including the strength of the individual's immune system.

READ MORE...

Since the AP released the initial results last July, athletes have been taking elaborate precautions to prevent illnesses that could potentially knock them out of the competition, including preventatively taking antibiotics, bleaching oars and donning plastic suits and gloves in a bid to limit contact with the water.

But antibiotics combat bacterial infections, not viruses. And the AP investigation found that infectious adenovirus readings — tested with cell cultures and verified with molecular biology protocols — turned up at nearly 90 percent of the test sites over 16 months of testing.

"That's a very, very, very high percentage," said Dr. Valerie Harwood, Chair of the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida. "Seeing that level of human pathogenic virus is pretty much unheard of in surface waters in the US You would never, ever see these levels because we treat our waste water. You just would not see this."

While athletes take precautions, what about the 300,000-500,000 foreigners expected to descend on Rio for the Olympics? Testing at several of the city's world-famous beaches has shown that in addition to persistently high viral loads, the beaches often have levels of bacterial markers for sewage pollution that would be cause for concern abroad — and sometimes even exceed Rio state's lax water safety standards.

In light of the AP's findings, Harwood had one piece of advice for travelers to Rio: "Don't put your head under water."

Swimmers who cannot heed that advice stand to ingest water through their mouths and noses and therefore risk "getting violently ill," she said.

Danger is lurking even in the sand.

Samples from the beaches at Copacabana and Ipanema revealed high levels of viruses, which recent studies have suggested can pose a health risk — particularly to babies and small children.

"Both of them have pretty high levels of infectious adenovirus," said Harwood, adding that the virus could be particularly hazardous to babies and toddlers who play in the sand.

"You know how quickly an infant can get dehydrated and have to go to the hospital," she added. "That's the scariest point to me."

Dr. Fernando Spilki, the virologist and coordinator of the molecular microbiology laboratory at Feevale University in southern Brazil whom AP commissioned to conduct the water tests, says the survey revealed no appreciable improvement in Rio's blighted waters — despite cleanup promises stretching back decades.

"Unfortunately, what we've seen throughout all this time is that there is a variation in the levels of contamination, but it fluctuates much more as a result of climactic conditions than due to any measures that may have been taken to try to remove this contamination," said Spilki, one of Brazil's most respected virologists.

MOST CONTAMINATED AREAS

The most contaminated points are the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, where Olympic rowing will take place, and the Gloria Marina, the starting point for the sailing races.

In March, 2015, sampling at the Lagoon revealed an astounding 1.73 billion adenoviruses per liter; this June, adenovirus readings were lower but still hair-raising at 248 million adenoviruses per liter. By comparison, in California, viral readings in the thousands per liter are enough to set off alarm bells.

Despite a project aimed at preventing raw sewage from flowing directly into the Gloria Marina through storm drains, the waters remain just as contaminated. The first sampling there, in March, 2015, showed over 26 million adenoviruses per liter; this June, over 37 million adenoviruses per liter were detected.

While local authorities including Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes have acknowledged the failure of the city's water cleanup efforts, calling it a "lost chance" and a "shame," Olympic officials continue to insist Rio's waterways will be safe for athletes and visitors. The local organizing committee did not respond to multiple requests for comment, though it has previously said bacterial testing conducted by Rio state authorities has shown the aquatic venues to be within state guidelines.


Rio mayor Eduardo Paes

The crux of the issue lies in the different types of testing used to determine the health and safety of recreational waters.

Bacterial tests measure levels of coliforms — different types of bacteria that tend not to cause illnesses themselves but are indicators of the presence of other, potentially harmful sewage-borne pathogens such as other bacteria, viruses and protozoa that can cause cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A and typhoid, among other diseases. Bacterial tests are the worldwide standard because they're cheap and easy.

But there's a growing consensus that they're not ideal for all climates, as bacteria break down quickly in tropical weather and salty marine waters. In contrast, viruses have been shown to survive for weeks, months or even years — meaning that in tropical Rio low bacterial markers can be completely out of step with high virus levels.

That disparity was borne out in the AP's testing. For instance, in June, 2016, the levels of fecal coliforms in water samples from Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches were extremely low, with just 31 and 85 fecal coliforms per 100 milliliters, respectively. But still, both had alarming readings for rotavirus, the main cause of gastroenteritis globally, with 7.22 million rotaviruses per liter detected in the waters of Copacabana, while 32.7 million rotaviruses per liter were found in the waters of Ipanema Beach.

The testing also revealed alarming spikes in fecal coliform levels — the very measure the state government uses to determine the safety of Rio's recreational waters.

"If these were the reported values in the United States, let's say in California, there is definitely an indication of a problem," said Dr. Kristina Mena, a waterborne virus expert at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

According to California's bacterial tests standards, 400 fecal coliforms per 100 milliliters is the upper limit for a beach to be considered safe for swimming. AP's tests revealed that Copacabana Beach, where the marathon and triathlon swimming are to be held and thousands of tourists are likely to take a dip, exceeded California's limit five times over 13 months of testing.

Nearby Ipanema Beach, which is not playing host to any Olympic sports but is among the city's most popular tourist spots, exceeded California standards five times over 12 months, once spiking to nearly 50 times what would be permitted in California. One of two testing spots along the beach in the Olympic hub neighborhood of Barra da Tijuca once hit more than 60 times that limit over the five months testing was conducted there.

"If we had exceedances that consistently were in the thousands like I'm seeing here, there would be a high likelihood that that beach would be put on our list of impaired water bodies," said Rik Rasmussen, manager of surface water quality standards at California's State Water Board. That would lead to water quality warnings posted on the beach, possible beach closure, and the development of a program to root out the source of the contamination, he said.

The beaches even violate Rio state's own standards, which are much less stringent than those in California, many other US states and beach-loving countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

RIO BEACHES

In Rio, beaches are considered unfit if bacterial tests turn up more than 2,500 fecal coliforms per 100 milliliters — more than six times higher than the upper limit in California. But Copacabana and Ipanema even violated those much higher limits on three separate occasions. The state environmental agency, INEA, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Rasmussen acknowledged that the higher thresholds might make sense in Rio, where sewage pollution has been a perennial problem, meaning that locals are regularly exposed to the pathogens lurking in raw waste from an early age and therefore build up immunities. But visitors are unlikely to have such immunities, putting them at risk for illnesses.

After the AP's initial report on the findings of the study in July of last year, the Olympics' adviser on health matters, the World Health Organization, said it would carry out its own viral testing in Rio's Olympic waterways. The agency later flip-flopped, finally concluding that bacterial tests alone would suffice.

Athletes who have trained years for a chance at Olympic glory have resigned themselves to competing in the filth.

"There's been a lot of talk about how dirty the water is and all the viruses," said Finnish team sailor Noora Ruskola. "I'm mentally prepared for this. Some days the water is totally OK, and some days there are bad days."

However, tourists are unlikely to realize the dangers: Water quality warning signs used to dot showcase beaches, but they're no longer there. Now, a brief item on the weather page of the local paper lists which beaches the state environmental agency has deemed safe for swimming.

Most beach-going visitors are likely in the same situation as Raul Onetto, a 52-year-old bank executive from Uruguay recently soaking up the sun on Copacabana Beach.

When asked whether he knew that the bacterial levels sometimes exceeded the norms in other countries and could indicate problems, he expressed disbelief.

"The water looks beautiful. I didn't know it was dirty," said Onetto. "If it's dirty, the public should know it. I came 2,000 kilometers to be on a beach."

In Rio, the main tourist gateway to the country, a centuries-long sewage problem that was part of Brazil's colonial legacy has spiked in recent decades in tandem with the rural exodus that saw the metropolitan area nearly double in size since 1970.

Even in the city's wealthy areas, sewage treatment has lagged dramatically behind, with so-called "black tongues" of fetid, sewage-filled water common even on the tony Ipanema and Leblon Beaches. The lagoons in the fast-growing Barra da Tijuca region have been filled with so much sewage dumped by nearby glass-and-steel residential towers that vast islands of sludge emerge from the filthy waters during low tide. That lagoon system, which hugs the Olympic Park and Athletes' Village, regularly sees massive pollution-related fish die-offs and emits an eye-watering sulfuric stench.

Promises to clean up Rio's waterways stretch back decades, with a succession of governors setting firm dates for a cleanup and repeatedly pushing them back. In the city's 2009 Olympic bid document, authorities pledged the games would "regenerate Rio's magnificent waterways." A promised billion-dollar investment in cleanup programs was meant to be among the games' most important legacies.

Once more, the lofty promises have ended in failure.

Just over a month before the games, biologist Mario Moscatelli spent more than two hours flying over Rio in a helicopter, as he's done on a monthly basis for the past 20 years.

Viewed from above, Rio's sewage problem is as starkly visible as on the spreadsheets of the AP analysis: Rivers are tar-black; the lagoons near the Olympic Park bloom with fluorescent green algae that thrives amid sewage; fishermen's wooden boats sink into thick sludge in the Guanabara Bay; surfers paddle amid a giant brown stain that contrasts with the azure of the surrounding waters.

"It's been decades and I see no improvement," laments Moscatelli, an activist who's the most visible face of the fight to clean up Rio's waterways. "The Guanabara Bay has been transformed into a latrine ... and unfortunately Rio de Janeiro missed the opportunity, maybe the last big opportunity" to clean it up.

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RELATED FROM THE GUARDIAN, UK

What's in the water? Pollution fears taint Rio's picturesque bay ahead of Olympics Jonathan Watts in Rio de Janeiro and John Vidal Wednesday 3 August 2016 10.00 BST Last modified on Thursday 4 August 2016 01.00 BST

Untreated sewage and viruses in Guanabara Bay have led UN to advise athletes to spend as little time in the water as possible



Tyres float in polluted waters along the edge of Guanabara Bay, the Olympic sailing venue in Rio de Janeiro state
Tyres float in polluted waters along the edge of Guanabara Bay, the Olympic sailing venue in Rio de Janeiro state. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images


There can be few more beautiful city sights in the world than that from the Marina da Gloria, where the Rio 2016 Olympic sailing events will be launched this weekend.

Look out from the quayside across Guanabara Bay and the panorama takes in Sugarloaf mountain, the Niteroi bridge and the distant hills of the Serra dos Orgãos national park, while behind you are the palm trees of Flamengo Park and the statue of Christ the Redeemer.

But this treat for the eyes – which will make it the perfect backdrop for TV sports broadcasts – is sometimes so polluted with untreated human waste that it can also be an assault on the nose and the immune system, prompting a recommendation from the United Nations that competitors and spectators should spend as little time in the water as possible.

In its latest advice, the World Health Organisation said: “It is suggested that all athletes should cover cuts and grazes with waterproof plasters prior to exposure, try to avoid swallowing the water, wash/shower as soon as possible after exposure and, as far as possible, minimise their time in the water and avoid going in the water after heavy rainfall if possible.”

Many locals, however, ask why it has taken hosting the Olympics for city authorities take notice of a problem that they have had to live with for more than a decade.

“The water quality is shit because the sewage flushes in untreated. We all know that. No local would swim in it because we know we would get a disease,” said Alex Batista, a skateboard instructor who teaches on the Aterro do Flamengo, an area of reclaimed land between the bay and the city centre.

That popular wisdom has been reinforced by a series of studies in the past year, which suggest that Guanabara Bay – and other aquatic venues the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoa (rowing and canoeing) and Copacabana beach (triathlon and open water swimming) – are teeming with pathogens.

The Associated Press reported levels of bacteria and viruses so high that swallowing just three teaspoons of water from the bay was likely to lead to severe stomach and respiratory illnesses. Concentrations of adenoviruses were said to be thousands of times higher than the levels considered safe in the US or Europe.

Leading UK medical journal the Lancet has warned that the risk to the health of athletes was “of concern”. In an editorial last year it said: “Nearly 1,400 of the more than 10,000 athletes competing at the Games will be directly exposed to the contaminants in this water.


A view of Guanabara Bay in Rio shortly before the Olympic Games. Photograph: Marcelo Sayao/EPA

Amid a slew of alarming headlines, some athletes have been pre-emptively taking antibiotics, bleaching their oars and training in protective suits.

But Maria Neira, the WHO’s director of Public Health and Environment, which has been advising the Olympic committee , played down fears of dangerous levels of pollution, saying the risk of illness has been minimised “as far as possible”.

“If there is a risk, it will be for mild intestinal problems leading to diarrhoea. The athletes will be healthy, so for them the risk may be less than for normal populations,” she told the Guardian.

Nonetheless, UN monitoring has revealed water quality in Guanabara bay and the marina area that WHO guidelines categorise as poor or very poor.

Cycling along the bayside on Tuesday, it was not hard to see why. Channels near Botafogo and Flamengo discharged foul-smelling murky waters that were supposed to have been treated. On the beach, there were hundreds of people sunbathing, playing volleyball, drinking beer and chatting – but very few who ventured into the waters.

“It’s very dirty,” said Tais Montero, a student who lives nearby. “I only have a dip in extreme circumstances – if it is very hot and the shower is not working.”

Further along the coast, retiree Anibal Rodrigues was fishing on some rocks and lamenting his poor luck. He had caught just one small fish in an hour, but he said 20 years ago it would have been six or seven. “The pollution has got worse. The fish don’t like that.”

Nonetheless, in this part of the bay, the water looked and smelled much cleaner and there was little floating rubbish beyond a couple of plastic bottles. Certainly, the wildlife had not yet given up, proven by a small turtle that swam by.

The worst affected areas are further to the north of the city, where low-income favela communities are concentrated and government investment in water systems and sewage treatment is inadequate.

As part of its Olympic bid, the state of Rio de Janeiro committed to expand and upgrade the system so that 80% of sewage is treated. There has been progress but it has fallen far short of this goal.

Since 2009, the state-run water company CEDAE claims to have spent more than £500m on tripling sewage treatment in the bay, but still less covers less than half of residents.

The city mayor, Eduardo Paes, has lamented the state government’s failure to clean up Guanabara Bay, but he said the Olympics had brought improvements in some areas.

“Our pollution reduction efforts have been successful in that Olympic sailing events will take place on the bay, close to the mouth where it is cleanest. The process of preparing for the Games has brought attention to the issues of pollution, waste management and water usage.”

Alberto Chebabo, an expert on infectious diseases at Rio’s Federal University hospital, agreed that the risks varied around the bay. At the northern end, he said waters were not remotely suitable for swimming, but nearer the mouth – where the sailing events will be concentrated – he said the bay was relatively clean.

In any case, he said sailors who have been training here over the past year are likely to have built up antibodies against many of the viruses in the water. However, he and other experts caution that weather is also a key factor. If it rains, far more sewage and rubbish flows into the bay and a much wider area is polluted.

‘The only Olympic legacy I see is repression and war’ – a year in Rio’s favelas

At the marina on Tuesday, competitors appeared to have resigned themselves to the situation and would rather focus on the event. “We sailors don’t talk about this among ourselves. It’s not a big issue for us. I think the problems have been exaggerated in the media,” said Sofian Bouvet, a member of the French sailing team.

“This bay is a great place to sail. I have trained here 11 times and I have never become sick. It’s a fact that the water isn’t clean, but it is not surprising for a city of this size. These problems existed for many years. Why is it only now that people talk about them?”


A doll’s head and plastics among the rubbish and untreated sewage in the waters of Guanabara Bay. Photograph: Barbara Walton/EPA

Neira said water quality varied from one site to another. “The data we are seeing suggests that water quality is within WHO guidelines off Copacabana beach where athletes will be swimming and highly exposed. The risk of illness at sites near theMarina da Glória and Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon where they are not swimming is very limited”.

In new advice, the UN said that monitoring showed that some sites failed to meet Brazilian water quality standards and would be classed under WHO guidelines as poor or very poor. “In Guanabara Bay and the marina areas there have been poor quality results but they are starting to come into compliance,” said Neira.

Water quality is likely to vary throughout the day depending on sunshine and rainfall, but organisers will inspect tall sites and receive data allowing them to cancel competitions if pollution levels are too high.

Athletes competing in aquatic events should be familiar with the risks of water-borne infections: only five years ago former British Olympic rower Andy Holmes died from Weil’s syndrome caused by infection with leptospira caught from the fresh water of Lincolnshire in England.

Mayor Paes said the water pollution had improved. “I welcome this scrutiny because it is generating a debate that will benefit the city – and the country – for decades to come. Guanabara Bay is not yet the pristine body of water we hope it will be one day, [but] it is far cleaner today than at the start of the bid process.”

As part of its Olympic bid, the state of Rio de Janeiro committed to install sewers and water treatment facilities in 80% of communities ahead of the Games. But progress has been very slow and this goal is not even coming close to being achieved.

According to the city authorities, nearly 70% of the residents living in the Guanabara Bay watershed still lack basic sewage treatment and the large number of people living in favelas (“slums”) makes it extremely difficult to bring in sewer lines.


PHILSTAR

Pinoys in Barong draw attention in Rio flag-raising rites By Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 4, 2016 - 12:00am 10 12.6K googleplus5 1


The Philippine delegation in their ‘barong.’ ABAC CORDERO

RIO DE JANEIRO – The Filipinos stood tall in their native “barong.”

While delegates from four other nations came to the flag-raising ceremony in track suits and shorts, the Filipinos were dressed to kill, arriving at the Olympic Plaza in their national costume.

Immediately, the Pinoys made heads turn.

Delegates from other countries kept asking about their “barong,” telling the Filipinos, from the officials to the athletes, how pleasing they were. One asked where he could get one.

The formal flag-raising inside the Athletes Village are done in batches, and the Filipinos were grouped Tuesday with delegates from Japan, Panama, Denmark and Antigua and Barbuda.

The mayor of the Athletes Village, two-time Olympic medalist Janeth Arcain of Brazil, welcomed the delegates as dancers in leafy costumes provided the festive atmosphere.

Arcain, who won Olympic medals in women’s basketball, said the Olympics “is all about fair play” and said the delegates should consider Brazil their home.

“Our home is your home,” she said.

One by one, the flags were raised and the national anthems played. The Philippines was third in line after Panama and Denmark.

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The flag of the International Olympic Committee was also raised during the one-hour event that took place under a cool Brazilian weather.

Arcain spoke about the importance of sports, and how “it brings people together.”

As the Philippine national anthem was played, the athletes, led by weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and Marestella Torres, who are both in their third straight Olympics, and the officials, headed by chef-de-mission Jose Romasanta and Julian Camacho, held their hands to their chest.

After the singing of the national anthems, loud music filled the air. Filipino official Col. Jeff Tamayo broke the ice and took the floor, doing a tribal dance.

He was applauded.

The delegates were then led off, and the Philippine delegation went straight to the McDonald’s outlet at the Olympic Plaza for snacks.

Romasanta and Tamayo presented the Athletes Village mayor with a scale model of the Philippine jeepney. They received gifts in return.

It was Romasanta’s idea for the Filipinos to come in their “barong.”

He said he noticed that in recent flag-raising ceremonies, whether it’s in the SEA Games, Asian Games or the Olympics, Filipinos would come as they were, some in track suits, others came in suits.

“It’s like we were not treating the event seriously and formally. It’s the raising of the Philippine flag and we should represent our flag the way we should,” he said.

The Filipinos, who arrived here on July 23, were formally welcomed.

“It started officially the entry and participation of the Philippine delegation in this Rio Olympics,” said Romasanta.

“Now everybody knows that they’re a part of it – from the athletes to the officials. The next thing now is for them to compete,” he said.

“Definitely we made an impression in treating this as something very important. We showed everybody our national costume,” said Romasanta.

Romasanta said he knew that Tamayo was up to something good.

“We were very formal and at the same time we were festive,” said the chef-de-mission.

“We stole the show,” he added.

The Filipinos stood tall.

 
https://youtu.be/HYCmtPGhuFM

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER SPORTS SECTION

Refugee team bright spot in Rio’s troubled Olympics By: Percy D. Della @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 01:12 AM August 6th, 2016

THE DREADED Zika virus. A drug-resistant super bacteria detected in the water sports venue. Fire and flooding at the brand new Olympic village. A “nuclear option:” that threatens to wipe out the entire Russian team.

These are some of the dark clouds overshadowing the Summer Olympic Games unfurling today (Friday night in Brazil) at Rio de Janeiro’s cavernous Maracaña Stadium.

But a silver lining figuratively will brighten the skies of the Carnival City and glow in the minds of audiences worldwide during the opening ceremonies when the first ever Olympic team made up of refugees takes its place among competitors from around the globe, including our 12 Olympians.

A brainchild of International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, the team shows the world refugees are worthy of help and capable of doing great things when they finally go home.


The refugees team will march behind the Olympic Flag at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of Rio 2016 ©Getty Images

Further, Back said the unique delegation “will make the world better aware of the magnitude of this [refugee] crisis.” The team will march under the Olympic flag and to the Olympic anthem, and live as other teams in the Olympic Village roused recently by flooding and fire near the Australian Olympic quarters.

The team is the sports face of the current refugee problem. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, there are 65 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, the most since the Second World War that ended 71 years ago.

From a candidate pool of 33 who trained in the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya, 10 athletes were selected for Rio.

They include an Ethiopian marathoner, Yonas Kinde who drives a taxi in Luxembourg; two judokas, Popole Misenga and Yolande Mabika from the Congo who were left by their coach after a competition in Brazil in 2013; a pair of Syrian swimmers Yusra Mardini and Rami Anis, who escaped to Germany and Belgium, respectively; and five long distance runners from South Sudan, Yiech Pur Biel, Angelina Nadai

Lohahith, Nathiki Lokonyen, Paulo Amorun Lokoro, and James Nyang Chiengjiek.

Bach has played the good guy in Rio lately. He is seemingly unperturbed by the decision of the superstars of the Games’ made for TV events and veritable gold mines for corporate sponsorship—basketball, golf and tennis—to stay out of the Games due to the Zika threat and other personal reasons.

Lately, Bach and the Brazil organizers were jolted by the discovery of a bacteria that threatens the health of sailing and water sports athletes competing in Rio’s Guanabara Bay.

Bach and the IOC would likely not disqualify the entire Russian team from competing in Rio because of state sponsored doping.

The “nuclear option” that would obliterate the Kremlin’s contingent was not what the Olympic movement stands for,” according to Bach.

* * *

While qualifying for their own version of the Olympics, disabled Filipino athletes even outpaced their healthy colleagues.

Now after a hoped-for send-off by President Duterte, para-athletes Pete Mangliwan and Ernie Gawilan in athletics, Josephine Medina in table tennis and Adeline Ancheta in power lifting will compete at the 2016 Rio Paralympics Sept. 7 to 18.

The four who will join close to 4,500 athletes from more than 160 countries, banner the hopes of 2 million Filipinos with disabilities, says Dennis Esta, the Philippine Sports Association for the Differently Abled (Philspada) executive director who will accompany the team to Rio.


MANILA BULLETIN

Pacquiao gets committee on Sports; Lacson on games & amusements
[Resolution #68: Senate split games, amusement and sports panel]
August 1, 2016 Share3 Tweet1 Share1 Email0 Share8 By Jelly F. Musico, Philippine News Agency


Photo courtesy of TahoeNews.com

MANILA, Aug. 1 – Neophyte statesman Manny Pacquiao took a committee chairmanship after the Senate adopted Senate Resolution No. 68 that separated the Senate committee on games, amusement, and sports into two new standing committees.

As a result, Pacquiao has been awarded with the chairmanship of the now Senate committee on sports while Senator Panfilo Lacson got the Senate committee on games and amusement.

Pacquiao has now two committees, including the committee on public works approved last week by the Senate, which constituted the first 21 standing Senate committees.

On Monday, the Senate announced the chairmanship and members of the 12 more committees.

These are the committees on government owned and controlled corporations given to Senator Richard Gordon; climate change to Senator Loren Legarda; banks, financial institutions and currencies to Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero; youth to Senator Joel Villanueva; and, economic affairs to Senator Sherwin Gatchalian.

Senator Leila de Lima got the committee on electoral reforms and people’s participation; Senator Paolo Benigno ‘Bam’ Aquino IV with the committee on science and technology; Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri with the cooperatives; Senator Sonny Angara with local government and Senator Grace Poe with the Senate committee on public information and mass media.

The Senate will continue constituting the remaining standing Senate committees on Tuesday.

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RELATED FROM BOXING INSIDER ONLINE

New Filipino Senator Manny Pacquiao Wants Some Criminals To Hang – Literally By: Sean Crose

New Filipino Senator Manny Pacquiao wants the death penalty to be employed in his homeland. Oh, and he wants the method of execution to be hanging. And you thought Pacquiao was menacing in the ring. Sure enough, the boxing legend turned politician is making waves at his new job by desiring to bring law and order to his nation through a very, shall we say, unique method – at least by modern standards. Isaac Parker, the famous hanging judge of the Old West, would clearly be pleased.

“Death penalty,” Pacquiao is quoted as saying, “to me, is a just retribution for a crime committed by a certain person.”

So, just who would Pacquiao execute?

Some of those involved in the illegal narcotics business, to be sure. The same goes for many rapists. Some kidnappers would be sent to the hangman, as well. Make no mistake about it – Pacquiao’s approved method of law enforcement may seem harsh here in the modern United States, but the people being targeted by the PacMan aren’t the nicest bunch, either. For the record, the Filipino death penalty was abolished around a decade ago.

Why hanging, though?

Isn’t that particularly harsh? The famous brawler doesn’t seem to think so. To the contrary, actually.

“Pacquiao,” GMA reports, “believed that hanging is more ‘humane’ not only for the death convict but also for the medical personnel who have to assist in carrying out the death sentence despite their personal beliefs and convictions.” With all this in mind the news organization also made it clear that no specific form of execution is presented in a bill Pacquiao “will file.”

Of course, the new senator has more than just crime fighting on his mind. He’s also said to be in support of creating fitness centers for the public, military training for eleventh and twelfth graders, and, of course, a national boxing commission (no surprise there, really). All things considered, it’s clear the politician has a lot on his plate at the moment.

Still, there are those who feel he will return to the ring, perhaps sooner than later. Talk recently has been of a potential match between himself and perennial loudmouth Adrien Broner…unquestionably an entertaining, if not a top level, pairing. Sure enough, Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum is said to have held a date in October in Vegas (at the Mandalay Bay) just in case the iconic multi-division champ decides to come back after a typically short boxer’s retirement.

It’s hard to imagine how the man will be able to focus on politics as well as prize fighting, however. Perhaps Pacquiao will simply decide that he can’t engage in both activities anymore.

After all, he’s quite occupied as it is. For instance, on top of his other responsibilities, Pacquiao is also planning on memorizing his country’s constitution.


PHILSTAR

Pacquiao adds spice to 2016 PBA All-Stars By Nelson Beltran (philstar.com) | Updated August 2, 2016 - 6:24pm 2 0 googleplus0 0


Manny Pacquiao

MANILA, Philippines – Boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao, listed as playing coach of the Mahindra Enforcers in the official PBA roster, is lending his presence in the 2016 PBA All-Star Extravaganza, suiting up with the Stalwarts team in the All-Star Blitz Game on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Pacquiao, who has played couples of games with Mahindra (formerly KIA) last season, is teaming up with legends Alvin Patrimonio, Ronnie Magsanoc, Nic Belasco and Topex Robinson in the Stalwarts team that also includes PBA youngsters Chris Banchero, David Semerad, Raymond Almazan and PBA D-League stars Mike Tolomia, Russel Escoto, Raphael Banal and Bryan Cruz.

Legends Johnny Abarrientos, Noli Locsin, Richard del Rosario and Bong Ravena, meanwhile, banner the Team Greats that also features PBA players Maverick Ahanmisi, Kevin Alas, Anthony Semerad, Ian Sangalang and D-League mainstays Ed Daquioag, Mac Belo, Roger Pogoy and Jonathan Grey.

Pacquiao is likely to figure in curious matchup with Abarrientos to highlight the Blitz Game which serves as the main dish in the All-Star Friday to be spiced up by skills competitions including the Obstacle Challenge, the three-point shootout and the slam-dunk contest.

Terrence Romeo, Rey Guevarra and Jeric Fortuna defend their crowns in the three-point shootout, slam-dunk contest and obstacle challenge, respectively.

Also entered in the dunking competition are James Forrester, Moala Tautuaa, Chris Newsome and Franklin Bonifacio while James Yap, Jeff Chan, Alex Cabagnot, RJ Jazul, Jayjay Helterbrand, Almond Vosotros, Nino Canaleta, Garvo Lanete, Simon Enciso and Troy Rosario try to snatch the Three-Point King title.

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The All-Star Weekend culminates with the keenly awaited North-vs-South All-Star Game on Sunday with Romeo, Mark Caguioa, Marc Pingris, Japeth Aguilar and Calvin Abueva leading the North team’s bid to repeat their victory in Puerto Princesa, Palawan last year.

Romeo, Caguioa, Pingris, Aguilar and Abueva make up coach Yeng Guiao’s starting unit versus coach Leo Austria’s James Yap, Scottie Thompson, Greg Slaughter, June Mar Fajardo and Joe Devance.

Coming off the bench for the North team are Jayson Castro, Alex Cabagnot, Gabe Norwood, Paul Lee, Ranidel de Ocampo, Stanley Pringle and Troy Rosario.

The South team’s reserves are Chan, JR Quinahan, Jericho Cruz, Chris Ross, Mark Barroca, RR Garcia, Carlo Lastimosa and Asi Taulava in his all-time record 14th All-Star participation.

The All-Star festivities are back at the Big Dome for the first time in seven years.

The PBA summer spectacle had been to Digos City, Laoag City, Boracay, Victorias City and Panabo in the previous years. The last time it was held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum was in 2009, featuring the final leg of Luz-Vi-Min tour pitting the Powerade Phl Team under coach Yeng Guiao versus the PBA All-Stars.

The last time the PBA All-Star Weekend was held in Manila was in 2014 over at the MOA Arena featuring Gilas Pilipinas versus the PBA All-Stars. The Nationals prevailed, 101-93, with Gary David going home with the MVP honors.

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Pacquiao to see action in PBA All-Star Weekend By: Randolph B. Leongson @RLeongsonINQ
07:32 PM August 2nd, 2016

The Fighting Senator will see action at the 2016 PBA All-Star Weekend.

Mahindra playing-coach Manny Pacquiao will participate in the Blitz Game on Friday, replacing teammate LA Revilla in the Stalwarts team on Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

He will be joined by Chris Banchero, David Semerad, and Raymond Almazan, D-League stars Mike Tolomia, Russel Escoto, Raphael Banal, and Carl Bryan Cruz, and legends

Alvin Patrimonio, Nic Belasco, Ronnie Magsanoc, and Topex Robinson in the team.

They will face the Greats team, bannered by Johnny Abarrientos, Kevin Alas, and Mac Belo in the exhibition game.

Pacquiao was activated by the Enforcers on Tuesday in lieu of Revilla, who broke his nose in practice on Monday.

He is expected to suit up in Mahindra’s game against Alaska on Wednesday.

This will be Pacquiao’s first game in close to nine months after playing for two games in the Philippine Cup.

The eight-division boxing world champion recently came out of retirement from the boxing ring and won a Senate seat in the May elections.


PHILSTAR

Pacquiao picks Vargas for Nov. 5 return, says Koncz By Dino Maragay (philstar.com) | Updated August 4, 2016 - 12:57pm 5 176 googleplus0 0


Manny Pacquiao and Jessie Vargas

MANILA, Philippines – It appears that WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas has won the Manny Pacquiao sweepstakes.

Pacquiao’s top adviser Mike Koncz told The Los Angeles Times’ Lance Pugmire that their camp has picked Vargas as the opponent for the Filipino icon’s comeback fight on November 5.

Koncz’s revelation came a few days after Top Rank Inc. chief Bob Arum said he will visit the Philippines sometime next week to finalize the details for Pacquiao’s return.

While it was expected that Pacquiao’s opponent will be determined during the meeting with Arum, Koncz said they will rather focus on the venue.

“That’s (finalizing the venue) the essence of the meeting,” Koncz told The Los Angeles Times. “Not choosing the opponent. That’s already been done.”

Although Arum has already booked the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas as the venue for Pacquiao’s ring return, Koncz said they are also exploring Dubai as an alternative.

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Vargas ended up as the top choice for the Pacquiao camp over rising star Terence Crawford, the unified WBC and WBO super lightweight champion who recently impressed in his dominant victory over Viktor Postol.

Even Pacquiao’s longtime trainer Freddie Roach is wary of Crawford that he prefers his prized ward to stay away from the unbeaten American for now.

Koncz shares Roach’s sentiment.

“I don’t like Crawford’s style. I don’t believe it’s a style that suits Manny,” Koncz added.

So is Vargas (27-1, with 10 KOs) an easier path for Pacquiao, who looked good in defeating Timothy Bradley last April?

“In boxing, nothing is easy,” Koncz continued.

“If you train hard, remain focused, things can go your way,” Pacquiao’s adviser said of Vargas, whose lone defeat, interestingly, came against Bradley.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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