December 1, 2018

2020 Olympic organisers working for boxing at Games despite freeze

2020 Olympic organisers working for boxing at Games despite freeze

The organisers of Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics said Saturday they would continue working to stage a boxing tournament at the games despite a freeze by the International Olympic Committee.

On Friday, the IOC said it was freezing preparations for boxing at the 2020 Games and launched a probe into the sport’s troubled governing body — the International Boxing Association (AIBA).

It said it wanted the sport included in 2020, but warned its inquiry could see boxing excluded.

On Saturday, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said that while “official level contact” was halted by the IOC’s decision, working-level contact with AIBA would continue.

“Working level contact is allowed, that’s our understanding. So we will liaise, we will keep our collaboration, coordination,” he told reporters after a meeting with the IOC’s executive board in Tokyo.

“We will make efforts in preparation so that we have no delay in responding to the eventual decision which might come to implement the competition (of boxing),” he added.

“Venue preparation will proceed accordingly.”

The IOC’s final decision on whether to include boxing in the 2020 programme is not expected until next June, Muto said.

But he sought to reassure athletes that Tokyo would be ready if the IOC permitted a boxing tournament at the Games.

“Regarding the preparations, no worries, that’s what I want to say to the athletes,” he said.

The IOC says it has concerns about the “governance, ethics and financial management” of AIBA, which last month elected as president a controversial Uzbek businessman linked to organised crime by the US Treasury Department — a claim he denies.

Qualifiers for the 2020 boxing tournament have been put on hold, the only sport not to have its qualifiers proved and a step described as “very significant” and possibly unprecedented.

Relations between the IOC and AIBA took a dive at the 2016 Rio Olympics when 36 officials and referees were suspended amid allegations of bout fixing.

Ties were further battered earlier this month when AIBA elected Gafur Rakhimov as leader, who strenuously rejects the charges from the US Treasury Department.

AIBA made a last-ditch bid to persuade the IOC that it had cleaned up its act, issuing a flurry of statements lauding its own efforts on financing and judging.

But while the IOC has acknowledged progress on judging, refereeing and anti-doping, it said there were still a “whole range” of issues on governance.

Boxing has an ancient Olympic tradition and has featured at every modern games since 1904, expect the 1912 Games in Stockholm because Swedish law at the time banned the sport.