The Asia-Oceania Olympic qualifying will be held at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City from April 19 to 21.

Athletes from 20 countries, including Oceania’s Australia and New Zealand, are expected to vie for honors in the Asian tournament and the Olympic qualifying competition for the Athens Olympics in August.

“This is a big boost to fencing in particular and Philippine sports in general because the best Asian fencing athletes are coming,” said Philippine Amateur Fencers Association (Pafa) president and Philippine Olympic Committee president Celso Dayrit Thursday during a news conference at the National Sports Grill in Makati City.

According to Dayrit, Federation International d’Escrime president Rene Roch of France and Asian Fencing Confederation head Chang Young Soo of Korea will arrive for the tournament organized by Pafa and International Management Group, and sponsored by Sharp Philippines.

Among the countries which have already confirmed their participation are Australia, Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, Uzbekistan and host Philippines.

China, India, Iran and Korea have also signified their participation.

Among those who will carry the RP colors are Southeast Asian Games and SEA Fencing Championships medalists Walbert Mendoza, Veena Tessa Nuestro, Joanna Franquelli, Emerson Segui, Rolando Canlas Jr., Ramil Endriano Wilfredo Viscayno Jr., Avelino Victorino Jr., Jocelyn Naval, Ruperto Endriano and Edmon Velez.

Only one entry per country will seek two Olympic berths in women’s foil and saber, while one each will make it in women’s epee and men’s epee, foil and sabre.

Team and individual épée, saber, foil competitions for men and women will comprise the Asian fencing program.

The success of fencers from China, Korea, Japan, Iran, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines has helped raise the level of the sport in this part of the world.