Tuesday 23 April 2019

Boxing gets Olympics boost as controversial President Gafur Rakimov steps aside

Boxing has received an Olympics boost with President Gafur Rakimov stepping aside, but the IOC is yet to make its final decision.
Boxing has received an Olympics boost with President Gafur Rakimov stepping aside, but the IOC is yet to make its final decision.

Sean McGoldrick

There has been a significant breakthrough in the crisis which threatened the future of boxing at the Tokyo Olympics with the surprise announcement that Gafur Rakimov, the controversial President of the AIBA, is temporarily stepping aside.

The International Olympic Committee and the AIBA, the wold governing body of amateur boxing, have been at loggerheads since his election last November.

He has alleged links to organised crime in central Asia – which he denies – and was described by the US Treasury as "one of Uzbekistan's leading criminals". Rakhimov is banned from entering many countries including the US, Australia and Argentina.

The IOC halted preparations for the boxing tournament at the Tokyo Olympics due to the impasse over Rakimov. In a statement he declared that he was stepping aside to allow an interim President to assume the role.

A teleconference of the AIBA's executive committee has been called to begin the process of finding a temporary replacement for Rakhimov, who could ultimately return to the position after the Olympics.

It remains to be seen whether this initiative will be enough to convince the IOC, who are currently investigating the activities of the AIBA, to allow the organisation run the Olympic boxing tournament at the 2020 Games.

It has been suggested that the IOC would run the boxing competition independent of the AIBA in Tokyo, but this would prove very problematic.

The announcement comes as the IOC's Executive Board await an interim report from the Inquiry Commission which was established to look into various governance issues in the AIBA, including their financial position. The Executive Board is due to meet in Lausanne next week.

The new President will be selected from the current five vice-presidents, one from each of the five continents.

Rakhimov again reiterated that the allegations against him are "fabricated and based on politically motivated lies".

Even though the Irish boxers failed to win a medal at the Rio Olympics, boxing is the country's most successful Olympics sport with 15 Irish boxers winning 16 medal between 1952 and 2012.

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