The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced hosts for five qualification events for boxing at the 2020 summer Olympic Games, along with engaging professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to aid the smooth delivery of these events and the Olympic programme itself.
The announcements mark the latest decisions taken by the IOC’s Olympic Boxing Task Force. The body was formed following the IOC Session’s approval in June of the Executive Board’s recommendation that boxing remain on the Tokyo 2020 programme, but that recognition of the scandal-hit International Boxing Association (Aiba) be suspended and evaluated after Tokyo 2020.
Four continental events and a final world qualification event will be held between February and May 2020 to give boxers the opportunity to seal their places at the Tokyo 2020 boxing tournament. The world qualification event, to be hosted in Paris, France from May 13-24, will give athletes a second chance to qualify and will therefore be open only to those boxers who have not yet qualified for the Games.
The first continental event will be held in Wuhan, China from February 3-14. This will be followed by events in Dakar, Senegal (February 20-29); London, England (March 13-23); and Buenos Aires, Argentina (March 26 to April 3). The IOC said the qualifying schedule features a strong emphasis on legacy, with all five events hosted by former or future Olympic Games or Youth Olympic Games host cities or countries.
While the total number of athletes (286) has been maintained from Rio 2016, the number of female boxers has been tripled for Tokyo 2020. The Tokyo tournament will feature 186 men and 100 women, compared to 250 men and 36 women in Rio.
“The Qualification Events represent a fair and transparent pathway to the Olympic Games with equal opportunities for all National Olympic Committees,” Boxing Task Force chair and IOC member, Morinari Watanabe, said. “Everything is being done to provide world-class Qualification Events and to ensure the best possible conditions for the athletes.”
Meanwhile, in an effort to ensure the successful delivery of the qualification events and the Olympic competition itself, the Olympic Boxing Task Force said it is currently finalising the appointment of PwC to independently review the process for selecting and evaluating boxing referees and judges.
The Task Force said it decided to build on the successful delivery at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, where the partnership with PwC helped ensure the credibility of refereeing and judging processes.
The IOC initially began its efforts to reform the governance of Aiba following the recommendations of the Inquiry Committee set up in November over concerns about boxing’s world governing body in the areas of finance, governance, ethics and refereeing and judging.
In January 2017, Aiba concluded that “unprofessional relationships” within its organisation created an atmosphere of collusion between senior management and judges at the 2016 summer Olympic Games, but ruled out the possibility that active interference took place in the result of bouts in Rio de Janeiro.
Finally, the IOC’s Task Force has also announced the creation of an Athlete Ambassador Group to engage with and represent boxers. This group will provide athlete input and feedback to the Task Force and promote the athlete voice and representation in boxing, for Tokyo 2020 and beyond.
The Athlete Ambassadors will comprise 10 boxers, one man and one woman from each of the five regions. The 10 will be selected from among nominations received from National Olympic Committees and National Federations by September 30. They will be joined by additional athletes elected by their peers at each of the four continental events.