The sport of boxing is in complete disarray as the world governing body of the sport AIBA is faced with troubled present and uncertain future.
AIBA in a statement to news agency AFP has claimed that they have been left in the dark by the International Olympic Committee as a probe against amateur boxing’s troubled governing body has put 2020 Olympic boxing qualifying events on hold.
Late last month the IOC has frozen preparations for boxing at the 2020 Games in Tokyo and launched a probe into the “governance, ethics and financial management” of the AIBA, which last month had elected controversial Uzbek businessman Gafur Rakhimov as president. The US Treasury Department has linked him to organised crime.
Upon announcing the investigation, the IOC suspended qualifying for the 2020 boxing tournament and warned that it could be stripped of the right to run the competition. Thus boxing becomes the only sport not to have its qualifiers approved.
The AIBA had told AFP that since then they have received “no communication” from the IOC regarding the investigation and when qualifiers could begin, the organisation’s ability to hold events for athletes is affected. “We certainly are anxious to receive direction as we owe it to our athletes to provide them with a roadmap for the Olympic qualification process,” AIBA executive director Tom Virgets has told the French news agency.
“We are already behind schedule, and every day that these operational details are delayed impact the ability for us to provide our athletes with the quality events that they deserve!”
Relations between the IOC and AIBA were hit hard at the 2016 Rio Olympics when 36 officials and referees were suspended amid allegations of bout fixing.
The election of AIBA chief Rakhimov, who denies the US Treasury Department charges, has widened the rift. An IOC spokesperson has said that AIBA has been sent “a letter describing the investigation and other measures taken immediately after the meeting of the Tokyo Executive Board (of the 2020 Olympics organising committee)”.
The spokesman added the letter contained details including the composition of the inquiry commission, chaired by Nenad Lalovic, IOC member and President of the International Wrestling Federation.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Friday that it has frozen the planning of the boxing tournament at the 2020 Games in Tokyo and launched an inquiry into the sport’s ruling body AIBA.
The IOC is acting tough on AIBA over controversial judging at the 2016 Games, financial issues after Rakhimov election in early November. The Uzbek controversial businessman is on the United States Treasury Department sanctions list in connection with organized crime and drug trafficking, allegations he has denied.
A three-strong panel headed by IOC executive committee member Nenad Lalovic is to look into AIBA’s ethics, governance and finances and to submit a report ahead the IOC Session in June 2019.
IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the probe could lead to the withdrawal of AIBA’s recognition by the IOC, and the IOC included it in a statement later in the day.
“This is the initiation of a procedure which can lead to the withdrawal of recognition for AIBA,” the IOC said.
However, at the Tokyo Games boxing tournament could be held outside of AIBA’s control as the IOC has no plan to kick the sport out of its programme.
With the IOC taking a tough stance, the for now AIBA cannot be in contact with Tokyo organizers while the qualifying system, final competition format and ticket sales are all on hold, the IOC said.
The IOC is also freezing all payments to AIBA, with athletes however eligible for Olympic solidarity funds. AIBA can also not use Olympic and Tokyo 2020 symbols.
Adams confirmed that AIBA presented reports on its finances and governance to the IOC executives, and the IOC acknowledged some progress in areas such as judging and anti-doping matters.
But “significant concern” remains on other areas, including that AIBA doesn’t seem to be able to have or open a bank account at its base in Switzerland.
“The EB acknowledged AIBA’s progress and its commitments highlighted in its Progress Report, but several points of significant concern remain, in particular in the areas of governance, ethics and financial management,” the IOC said in a statement.
“This requires further investigation and the opportunity for AIBA to respond to any findings.”
The executive board meeting concludes on tomorrow Saturday.