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Boxing’s Olympic status “frozen” as IOC begin investigation of AIBA

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) are to undergo an investigation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over the coming months as the sport’s place at Tokyo 2020, and subsequent Games, hangs in the balance.

It was confirmed at a conference today in the Japanese capital that the planning of the boxing tournament at the next Olympics has been frozen and will remain so until the presentation of the inquiry’s results next June.

Serbian Nenad Lalovic, credited as the man who ‘saved’ wrestling at the Olympics when he took over the presidency of their body back in 2013, will oversee the investigation.

The enquiry will assess the IOC’s “significant concerns” with the AIBA – namely the financial situation and the election of Uzbek Gafur Rakhimov to the organisation’s presidency last month.

Rakhimov has been named by the U.S. Treasury Department as “one of Uzbekistan’s leading criminals” and “a key member of a Russian-Asian criminal syndicate with a speciality in the organisation and the production of drugs in the countries of Central Asia.”

The Asian denies these allegations but, for the first time, the IOC today explicitly addressed the US Treasury’s claim that he is a heroin druglord and said that it was one of their “areas of concern” and that it “creates uncertainty” about his role as President.

The concern around Rakhimov, and more, say the IOC, “requires further investigation and the opportunity for AIBA to respond to any findings.”

The inquiry will be conducted over the next few months with findings to be presented to the IOC Executive Board in Lausanne, Switzerland next June.

The membership of the IOC will then have the final say on the possible suspension of the governing body under the Olympic Charter.

In what could be considered a slight ray of light, the IOC reaffirmed their desire for boxing to be included on the 2020 programme and beyond.

A tournament not facilitated by AIBA, should they be suspended, has been suggested – and the WBA and WBC, pro governing bodies, have stated their interest in getting involved.

IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell claimed “the goal was still to have an Olympic boxing tournament at Tokyo 2020” and that it was the their target to have confirmation on the sport’s Tokyo status, whether it will feature and who will organise it, at the session in Lausanne next year.

At present, while under investigation, the AIBA can not begin a qualification system (which remains unconfirmed) for the Olympics in Tokyo – meaning that the WSB and APB regular-season route will not be pathway like in 2016 should the AIBA’s presence at the Games remain.


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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