AIBA Out, Boxing In – Olympic Lifeline Suggested by IOC


The Olympic future of boxing hangs in the balance but there is hope.

Events yesterday looked to have hammered the final nail into the pugilistic coffin but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have seemingly suggested a scenario where Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport features at Tokyo 2020 and beyond

The sport’s international governing body, AIBA, yesterday announced that controversial Uzbek and current Interim President Gafur Rakhimov is the sole candidate for the vacant Presidency which will be decided at their ongress in Moscow next month.

This looked likely to incur the wrath of the IOC who had previously warned that, if Rakhimov was elected to the AIBA Presidency, the sport faces expulsion from the Olympic Games.

The reason for this is due to Rahkimov’s alleged criminal links. The Central Asian denies any wrongdoing but has been described by the U.S. Treasury as “one of Uzbekistan’s leading criminals” and “an important person involved in the heroin trade”.

The IOC Executive Committee, by chance, met yesterday in Buenos Aires ahead of the Youth Olympic Games in the city and discussed the crisis, publishing a statement late last night.

While AIBA look to be in an almost irretrievable position, boxing may well be saved from Olympic doom with the IOC pledging to “do its upmost to ensure that the athletes do not have to suffer under these circumstances and that we will protect their Olympic dream.”

Most have taken this mean the creation of a new international governing body for boxing, temporary or otherwise, to oversee and facilitate the sport in Tokyo in under two years time.

This would obviously be a desirable resolution for Irish boxers and boxers around the world.

The sport is responsible for over half of all the medals won by athletes representing Ireland since our first foray as a nation onto the Olympic scene back in 1924.

Read the IOC’s statement in full below:

The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) today expressed its ongoing extreme concern with the grave situation within the International Boxing Association (AIBA) and its current governance. These include the circumstances of the establishment of the election list and the misleading communication within the AIBA membership regarding the IOC’s position.

Such behaviour is affecting not just the reputation of AIBA and boxing but of sport in general.

Therefore, the IOC reiterates its clear position that if the governance issues are not properly addressed to the satisfaction of the IOC at the forthcoming AIBA Congress, the existence of boxing on the Olympic programme and even the recognition of AIBA as an International Federation recognised by the IOC are under threat. 

At the same time, we would like to reassure the athletes that the IOC will – as it has always done in such situations and is currently doing at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 – do its upmost to ensure that the athletes do not have to suffer under these circumstances and that we will protect their Olympic dream.

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie