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Tokyo in sight for Harrington after London qualifiers get the go ahead

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Irish boxer Kellie Harrington. Photo: Sportsfile

Irish boxer Kellie Harrington. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Irish boxer Kellie Harrington. Photo: Sportsfile

Irish lightweight Kellie Harrington will get two shots at Olympic qualification if she wins her first fight at the European qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 in London.

The Dubliner, the No 2 seed at the tournament, received a bye into the last 16 and will meet either Poland's Aneta Rygielska or Romania's Paula Cosmo on St Patrick's Day for a place in the last eight.

If Harrington, who requires a top-six finish, advances and wins her quarter-final, she'll qualify.

However, if she loses in the last eight, she'll get another shot at Olympic qualification in a box-off with the other beaten quarter-finalists.

"Women's boxing has grown from strength to strength since the first introduction in the London 2012 Olympic Games. I am just very grateful to have this chance to go and try to get a place in the 2020 Olympic Games for my country," she said.

Belgium's Delfine Persoon, who lost controversially to Katie Taylor last year, is also in the lightweight mix in London and meets Pita Nikolety of Greece this afternoon.

No Irish boxers will be in action today, but Dublin trio George Bates, Emmett Brennan and Kiril Afanasev box tomorrow.

Antrim's Kurt Walker and Michaela Walsh are seeded No 2 in the male and female featherweight limits.

Tough

Bernard Dunne, IABA high-performance director, believes it will be tough but doable.

"The team are as prepared as they are going to be at this stage. They've done the hard work. It's a tough competition, and there are tough fights ahead, but our team are more than capable," he said.

The London tournament is going ahead despite numerous sports fixtures being cancelled throughout the UK because of the coronavirus.

The Local Organising Committee said they had consulted with Public Health England.

"Our approach to the coronavirus situation is guided by the advice provided by Public Health England, and the latest information indicates that the competition is able to get under way this weekend," part of their statement read.

Boxing begins at noon today with a second session at 6pm.

Elsewhere, the European qualifiers will complete three of the Continental legs for Tokyo 2020 following the completion of the Asia/Oceania and African qualifiers in Amman and Daker recently.

However, the Americas qualifiers scheduled for Buenos Aires later this month have been shelved. It could now be held in the USA.

The final world qualifiers are scheduled for Paris in May but may now be pushed back to June.

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