IOC takes Olympic boxing in-house, Aiba set for suspension

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has opted to retain boxing’s place at the 2020 summer Olympic Games, but has recommended that the International Boxing Association (Aiba) should be suspended after stating that “serious governance issues” remain within the organisation.

The recommendation of the IOC Executive Board (EB) came after an Inquiry Committee that was formed in November delivered its verdict on Aiba yesterday (Wednesday), stating there had been a lack of satisfactory progress in the areas of finance, governance, ethics and refereeing and judging – concerns that were first flagged up in 2017.

The EB’s recommendation will be put to the IOC Session, which gathers in Lausanne from June 24-26. The IOC is set to effectively take the organisation of boxing at Tokyo 2020 in-house. A special task force, chaired by IOC member and president of the International Gymnastic Federation (FIG), Morinari Watanabe, has been created to ensure the delivery of boxing competitions at next year’s Games, along with the qualifying events leading up to Tokyo 2020.

If the decisions are confirmed at the IOC Session, the EB also said the total athlete quota for boxing at Tokyo 2020 would remain at 286 and the total number of eight men’s events and five women’s events would be maintained. This is the next step towards gender equality in boxing having had 10 men’s events and three women’s events at both London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Heading into yesterday’s verdict, Aiba interim president Mohamed Moustahsane had said the governing body was confident of its position in the Olympic Movement, with Aiba stating it had made “significant progress” in regards to finance, governance and refereeing and judging.

In a brief statement following yesterday’s ruling, Aiba said: “Aiba is currently reviewing the report from the IOC and will not make any comments until further clarification is made, however Aiba does look forward to working with the IOC in the future.”

The Inquiry Committee’s 30-page report stated that “serious governance issues remain…leading to serious reputational, legal and financial risks for the IOC, the Olympic Movement and its stakeholders”.

It added that Aiba had been “unable to demonstrate a sustainable and fair management of refereeing and judging processes and decisions, increasing the lack of confidence that athletes can have in fair competitions”.

The report also pointed to the controversial election of Gafur Rakhimov as Aiba president in November. Rakhimov, who ultimately stepped down in March, had come under serious scrutiny due to his place on a U.S. Treasury Department sanctions list for suspected links to organised crime and international heroin trafficking.

The IOC report said Rakhimov’s election six months ago “exposes the IOC, the Olympic Movement stakeholders and its partners, to unacceptable reputational, legal and financial risks,” citing issues for American sponsors and sports officials.

The IOC added that the status of Aiba’s full recognition will in principle be reviewed after Tokyo 2020. IOC president Thomas Bach said: “Today’s decision was taken in the interest of the athletes and the sport of boxing.

“We want to ensure that the athletes can live their dream and participate in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 while drawing the necessary consequences for Aiba following the recommendations of the Inquiry Committee. At the same time, we offer a pathway back to lifting the suspension, but there needs to be further fundamental change.”