By Marcus Bellinger (@marcusknockout)
In a saga that has had more twists and turns than a race track, things have finally come to a head and AIBA has been suspended by the IOC and will play no part in organising the boxing at the Tokyo Olympics or the qualifying tournaments. Anyone who has followed this story won’t be at all surprised at the verdict and given verbal jabs from the IOC such as President Thomas Bach’s recent comment that organising a boxing tournament is “not rocket science” this outcome was inevitable.
Whilst we now know there will be a boxing competition in 2020 there are still many unanswered questions such as the weight categories which leaves boxers with even longer uncertainty. The Olympic qualifiers are due to take place between January and May 2020 with quotas for men and women to be outlined.
Heading the special taskforce appointed by the IOC to organise the boxing for next year’s games is International Gymnastics Federation President Morinari Watanabe and it remains to be seen if a non-boxing person is able to put in place the necessary requirements to run the boxing in Tokyo as well as the qualifiers. There were hints of professional boxing organisations being contacted to help organise the sport at next year’s games but who that might be we simply don’t know.
As for AIBA, they are free to launch an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and interim President Mohamed Moustahsane, who took over from Gafur Rakhimov who stepped aside in March, had begun to outline plans to sue the IOC if indeed AIBA lost its right to run the boxing in Tokyo but at time of writing this hasn’t gone any further. AIBA is also able to arrange continental tournaments which of course will not act as Olympic qualifiers.
It also raises the question of possible compensation for Russia and India, who were awarded the next 2 men’s world championships and surely both countries would have made provisions financially and strategically. Also will there be a boycott from certain federations out of loyalty to Rakhimov?
Whilst financial, governance, judging and refereeing concerns from the IOC have played a part in this decision it’s still utterly perplexing that federations voted for Rakhimov given his inability to enter the US due to being on a US Treasury Department sanctions list. Not being able to work with companies and officials in America was stated as one of the main contributing factors for the decision and whilst a different President may not have made the difference, it surely would have helped AIBA not be in the situation that they are now.
By Marcus Bellinger (@marcusknockout)
The saga between AIBA and the IOC shows no signs of coming to an end and it was announced that the IOC Executive Board have frozen planning for the boxing competition for the Tokyo Olympics including the qualifying process and ticket sales.
An inquiry has been launched into AIBA’s ability to host the boxing competition and to assess whether the various “significant concerns” expressed by the IOC have been properly addressed to their satisfaction. The inquiry will be headed by Executive Board member Nenad Lalovic and IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell stated that the inquiry would take place over the next few months with the aim to have a definitive decision on boxing’s future at the next Board Executive meeting in Lausanne next June.
For the first time Gafur Rakhimov was directly mentioned by the IOC regarding their concerns along with AIBA’s inability to open or maintain a bank account in Switzerland.
Despite the promises of IOC President Thomas Bach that there will be a boxing competition in Tokyo, the ruling only heaps more uncertainty onto proceedings and raises a number of questions such as:
If indeed boxing does keep its Olympic place and the decision is made next June, is barely 15 months enough time to carry out the necessary qualifying tournaments?
Given the ever decreasing guarantees of Olympic participation will there be a mass exodus of fighters choosing to turn professional?
If AIBA is suspended will there be a huge split between the federations which would badly damage the integrity of the sport?
What happens to the allotted qualifying spots from the World Series of Boxing?
Finally what happens to the next 2 men’s world championships which have been awarded to Sochi and Delhi which surely both countries would have budgeted for?
Whatever the outcome and the answers to these various questions, unfortunately the athletes and us fans can do nothing more than wait as 2019 really is a defining moment for amateur boxing.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features