Boxing in Tokyo 2020 ‘Not rocket science’

Thomas Bach says another organization could run the boxing tournament at next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

INTERNATIONAL Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach claimed organizing a boxing event is “not rocket science” as he sent his strongest signal yet that the International Boxing Association (Aiba) could be stripped of its recognition.

Speaking at the Australian Olympic Committee’s Annual General Meeting in Sydney, Bach admitted an organization other than Aiba could run the boxing tournament at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The group leading the IOC inquiry into Aiba, launched last December, is due to present its final report to the Executive Committee at its next meeting in Lausanne on May 22.

It could lead to the IOC removing Aiba’s recognition as the Olympic governing body for the sport, a decision that would plunge the future of the world governing into serious doubt.

Bach once again promised that the IOC intends to have a boxing event at Tokyo 2020 but warned who will oversee the qualification process and be in charge of the competition at the Games remains uncertain.

“The question we are confronted with is, who will organize it?” Bach told the wires. “Will it be Aiba or will we have to find a different way? This depends on the results of an ongoing inquiry we have into Aiba which is looking at governance, finance, judging and refereeing—it is very, very serious.”

A wires report said Boxing Australia director Johan Linde raised doubts as to whether it was possible for a body other than Aiba to organize the boxing event given the short 14-month window before the start of the Games in the Japanese capital.

Bach, however, insisted it was feasible and the IOC would find a way to make it happen, even if Aiba is sanctioned.

“We want to do this because boxing is important Olympic sport, it is a universal sport, so we want to have boxing on the program,” Bach said. “If the cases arises we would have to make an effort to have it and to have the qualification process.

“Organizing a sports event is not rocket science so I guess we will be able to manage it,” he added.

The IOC’s investigation was triggered following the election of Gafur Rakhimov, who remains on a United States Treasury Department as “one of Uzbekistan’s leading criminals,” as Aiba president in November.

Rakhimov stepped aside in March and was replaced by Interim President Mohamed Moustahsane last month.

Aiba is hopeful the 67-year-old’s decision, coupled with an offer from influential Russian Executive Committee member Umar Kremlev to personally write off the organization’s significant debts, will count in its favor when the IOC delivers its verdict.

The IOC has stressed its problems with Aiba go far deeper than Rakhimov, citing its finances and judging and refereeing among its other concerns.

Recent developments—including a dispute between the European Boxing Confederation and Aiba after the continental body set up a working group and said it should be given direct access to the IOC to lobby to save the sport’s future—could also be considered by the Inquiry Committee.

Bach, meanwhile, said he has “a lot of sympathy” for Caster Semenya after the South African runner lost her Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) appeal in a landmark case against track and field’s governing body.

Based on Wednesday’s CAS decision, Semenya, who won the 800 meters at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, would have to artificially reduce her levels of testosterone to defend her titles at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

After winning an 800-meter race at the Doha Diamond League on Friday, her reply to a question of whether she will now submit to new International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) regulations and take hormone-reducing medication was: “Hell no.”

At the Australian Olympic Committee annual general meeting on Saturday, Bach said at a media conference: “First of all I must say I have a lot of sympathy for Caster Semenya over this decision.”

“Having said this, the issue as such is extremely complex,” Bach added. “It has scientific impact, it has ethical impact, it impacts on fair play in competition, so it’s extremely delicate and it’s extremely difficult to do justice to all these.”

“The IOC respects CAS decisions, as we always do, but from a human point of view, yes, I have sympathy for her.”

Bach said an IOC committee would go over the full CAS ruling once it was available, including recommendations on how the rules should be implemented.

During an earlier speech to the AOC meeting, Bach said: “In Olympic sport, all people are equal regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, cultural background or political beliefs. Therefore, we stand firmly against discrimination of any kind.”


Image credits: AP


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