The European boxing Olympic qualifies has been moved from London because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
The Copper Box was the initial venue for the qualification tournament before it was postponed after just three days last April and was due to play host things upon resumption.
However, the International Olympic Committee’s Boxing Task Force (BTF) – which has organized the qualifiers and will run the boxing tournament at Tokyo 2020, should the Games go ahead – has decided to find a new venue for the event.
It comes on the back of a surge in coronavirus cases in England.
Britain looks set to remain in lockdown until early March and travel restrictions look to remain in place for that duration and possibly beyond.
In a statement, the BTF said it was considering staging the qualifier in April in a different location, with an update due to be provided on February 17.
“The BTF decided the European Qualifier for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 boxing tournament will no longer be taking place in London in April,” the BTF said.
“The decision was taken in light of the current situation and increased travel restrictions to/from the UK and taking into consideration the feedback received from the European Boxing Federations and National Olympic Committees (NOCs).
“The BTF is currently evaluating all possible options (including April in another location) and will provide an update regarding the European qualifier on 17 February 2021.
“The BTF would like to express its gratitude to the British Olympic Association, GB Boxing, UK Sport, and all their stakeholders involved for their great commitment and efforts in supporting us during these extremely difficult and ever-evolving times.”
The qualifier – if it goes ahead – will pick up where it left off. As things stand, Kellie Harrington, Michaela Walsh, Aoife O’Rourke, George Bates, who is one win away from qualification, Emmett Brennan, Aidan Walsh, Michael Nevin, Kiril Afanasev and Dean Gardiner are still in play.
The Irish boxers that lost in London last March will, if selected, get a final shot at qualification at the final World qualifiers at a venue to be confirmed in early June.
All of the Irish athletes – besides George Bates who will book a ticket for Tokyo if he beats Azeri light-welter Javid Chalabiyev – remaining in the qualifiers are two wins away from automatic qualification.
Irish skipper Irvine will meet Spain’s Gabriel Escobar in the quarter-finals for at least bronze in London. Both men have qualified for Tokyo.