Ireland’s most successful sport looked set to be excluded from the Tokyo 2020 Games and beyond when it emerged that current AIBA Interim President Gafur Rakhimov would be the only person seeking candidacy for the organisation’s Presidency at the AIBA Congress in Moscow next month [November 3rd].
This development came despite numerous warning from the Internatonal Olympic Committee [IOC] to AIBA that the sport faced expulsion should the controversial Uzbek be elected to the sport’s top job.
This is due to Rakhimov’s alleged links to criminality. The Asian, who denies any involvement in crime, has been described by the U.S. Treasury as “one of Uzbekistan’s leading criminals” and “an important person involved in the heroin trade”.
Many national governing body’s had pushed for another candidate to battle it out with Rakhimov for the presidency and Kazakh Serik Konakbayev, a double European gold and World and Olympic silver medallist, had been the name put forward.
However, in murky circumstances, Konakbayev missed the dealine last month to submit the necessary letters of support from 20, or more, national governing bodies.
While the IOC pledged earlier this month that they would “do its upmost to ensure that the athletes do not have to suffer under these circumstances and that we will protect their Olympic dream,” the future of boxing at the Olympics remained and remains in doubt.
Many took the IOC’s statement to suggest that boxing could exist within the Olympics outside of AIBA but the feasability of this was questioned.
In an encouraging development, potential saviour Konakbayev has today had his place on the November 3rd ballot following an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS].
The Kazakh, current president of the Asian Boxing Confederation, argued that his inability to submit his forms of nomination was due to the deadline being on a Sunday [September 23rd] and that they had been presented to the AIBA HQ in Switzerland on the next working day.
CAS ruled in Konakbayev’s favour, ruling yesterday that “the CAS Panel found that the AIBA Election Committee treated all candidates equally and acted in good faith.”
“However, the Panel emphasised that the Election Committee unduly refused the nominations returned on a wrong form by several federations in support of their candidate, while such nominations should have been considered as being validly expressed.”
“Therefore, the Panel acknowledged that Serik Konakbayev reached the threshold of 20 nominations supporting his candidature for the AIBA Presidency within the relevant time limit.”
Konakbayev, who took light welterweight silver for the USSR at the 1980 Olympicss, said that “I would sincerely like to thank CAS and its panel members for their totally transparent and fair decision on my appeal.”
“I am delighted that CAS understood the arguments we submitted, and I am honoured to be on the list of the candidates for the AIBA Presidency. ”
“Now, I have a chance to seek the leadership role to rebuild our organisation and the sport I dearly love, working together with our National Federations.”
“I will give my best efforts to win the Presidency, not for me, I want to do it for the protection of the best interests of our boxers and their Olympic dreams and aspirations.”
“I take this responsibility very seriously and look forward to the election on November 3rd in Moscow and want to ask all AIBA members to support my candidacy to help build a new AIBA and ‘Make Boxing Great Again.'”