Boxing safe for Tokyo 2020, but AIBA to be ousted by IOC
By Jonathan Rest
Boxing will remain on the sports programme for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, but the competition will almost certainly not be run by AIBA, after the International Olympic Committee executive board today recommended the suspension of the governing body.
The decision followed a six-month review of the organisation, after the IOC had frozen all preparations for the 2020 Olympic boxing tournament, including ticket sales, approval and implementation of a qualification system, test event planning and finalisation of the competition schedule, pending an inquiry into the alleged governance and financial irregularities.
There were also issues related to ethics and refereeing and judging, which had been identified as early as 2017, the IOC said, with "a lack of satisfactory progress" since.
The executive board's decisions must still be ratified by the IOC session in Lausanne from 24 to 26 June.
If that is the case, a special task force, chaired by Morinari Watanabe, the IOC member and president of FIG, the International Gymnastic Federation, will: ensure the delivery of the Tokyo 2020 qualification events for boxing between January and May 2020 and the boxing tournament at the games; and develop a Tokyo 2020 qualification system for boxing no later than the end of next month.
The IOC said it will review the suspension of AIBA after Tokyo 2020.
Thomas Bach, president of the IOC, said: “[The] decision was taken in the interest of the athletes and the sport of boxing. We want to ensure that the athletes can live their dream and participate in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 while drawing the necessary consequences for AIBA following the recommendations of the Inquiry Committee. At the same time, we offer a pathway back to lifting the suspension, but there needs to be further fundamental change.”
Bach apparently opened the door to a commercial group becoming involved in helping to organise the Olympic boxing competition when he said: “I am sure the taskforce will be in contact with some professional boxing organisations and maybe other partners.”
Bach had previously angered AIBA by saying, in a statement that anticipated yesterday’s decision, that “organising a sports event is also not rocket science…”A key factor in the IOC's decision is understood to be the continued influence of controversial Gafur Rahimov, AIBA's president from Uzbekistan who stepped aside in March.
Rahimov is listed by the US Department of the Treasury as “one of Uzbekistan’s leading criminals,” and has been accused by the US authorities of being “an important person involved in the heroin trade,” allegations he steadfastly denies.
Rahimov's election six months ago "exposes the IOC, the Olympic Movement stakeholders and its partners, to unacceptable reputational, legal and financial risks,'' the inquiry report said.
Earlier this month, AIBA hit out at the IOC over the issue, warning that it could take legal action if there were moves to strip it of the right to organise the boxing competition at the Olympics, and accusing the IOC of breaching its own charter.
In a statement, AIBA told AFP that it would “defend its legitimate right” to organise the competition and added that it “will review all of its options, including legal, given that the IOC has breached the Olympic Charter.”
Tom Virgets, the boxing federation’s executive director, added: “We believe as an organisation that we have done everything that has been asked by the IOC.
“Every single document asked, we produced, every single requirement we have met, including our president self-suspending, the same manner as IOC members self-suspend when they have problems.”Sportcal