Relief for Irish fighters gunning for Tokyo gold after IOC decision
Ireland's amateur boxers breathed a collective sigh of relief yesterday as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed they should be able to pursue their Olympic dreams in Tokyo next year.
There had been grave fears for boxing's future at the Games due to governance issues at the International Boxing Association (AIBA).
While the AIBA is facing a suspension and looks set to be stripped of the right to organise next year's tournament, the likes of amateur world champion Kellie Harrington should still be able to chase gold in Japan after the IOC's intervention.
The news is a major boost for Ireland’s hopes at the 2020 Games, boxing having provided 16 of 31 Olympic medals to date, although the saga with the AIBA still looks far from over.
The decision, which was announced by International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach after a meeting of his executive board yesterday, comes after a six-month investigation into the crisis-hit federation.
AIBA has been on the ropes for several years as it has struggled to answer questions about its finances, governance and refereeing standards but its relationship with the IOC reached a new low when it elected Gafur Rakhimov as president last November, despite the Uzbek being on a United States sanctions list for alleged involvement with a global crime network.
With pressure mounting on him and his federation, Rakhimov eventually stood down in March and was replaced by interim president Mohamed Moustahsane.
If the AIBA had hoped that would be enough to placate the IOC, they were rudely disabused of that notion in Lausanne, where Bach said there will be an Olympic boxing competition in Tokyo but the AIBA will have nothing to do with it.
Furthermore, he said, the IOC’s executive board was recommending AIBA’s suspension – a decision based on the findings of the inquiry he set up in November and will be rubber-stamped at next month’s IOC session. “These decisions were taken in the interest of the athletes and the sport of boxing,” Bach said.
“We want to ensure, on the one hand, that the athletes can continue to live their Olympic dreams... while at the same time drawing the necessary consequences for AIBA following the recommendation of the inquiry.”