Olympic status remains in doubt for boxing, weightlifting

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has elected to maintain conditional status on the place of boxing at the 2020 summer Olympic Games and weightlifting on the programme for Paris 2024, highlighting its “significant ongoing concern” with the situation of the International Boxing Association (Aiba).

The IOC Executive Board said it still has a number of major concerns regarding Aiba, chiefly its governance and ethical and financial management, which require further information and confirmation.

The IOC has decided to maintain its position, which includes the continued suspension of financial contributions to Aiba and the right to review the inclusion of boxing on the Tokyo 2020 programme. A further review of Aiba’s status will be conducted by the IOC EB at its meeting in Tokyo, following the Aiba Congress scheduled for November 2-3.

Aiba last week continued its reform efforts by launching a New Foundation Plan which seeks to lay the groundwork for the future of the organisation. The New Foundation Plan intends to allow the new Aiba leadership, due to be elected in November, a fresh start with a smoothly running organisation. It consists of five pillars: governance, events, rules, development and communication.

In May, IOC president Thomas Bach warned Aiba that it needed to make more progress in implementing vital governance reforms or it could face being blocked from being part of Tokyo 2020.

Bach had said that a progress report showed insufficient steps had been taken to resolve issues surrounding finances, integrity and the administration of the governing body. Aiba’s anti-doping measures have been one of the areas of concern for the IOC.

The IOC yesterday (Thursday) delivered a more positive report on the status of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). The EB said it recognised the “concrete steps” taken by the IWF to address the actions specified by the IOC in December and to strengthen the IWF anti-doping programme and change cultural attitudes towards doping in high-risk countries.

The IOC said: “Such strong initiatives include the IWF’s newly designed Tokyo 2020 Qualification System, which links the number of quota places available per NOC (National Olympic Committee) to their history of doping offences, and the implementation of a greatly strengthened IWF anti-doping programme.

“While these measures represent a positive step forward, it is critical that IOC EB continues to monitor the full implementation of these changes and verify their positive impact on reducing the incidence of doping cases in weightlifting.”

Consequently, the EB decided to maintain the status of conditional inclusion of weightlifting in the sports programme for Paris 2024 and base further review on the assessment of the effectiveness of the anti-doping programmes throughout this year. The IOC EB will discuss the IWF status again at its meeting in Tokyo from November 30 to December 2.

Reacting to the IOC’s verdict, the IWF expressed its “surprise” at the decision to maintain its conditional status for Paris 2024, adding that it had been confident weightlifting would be reinstated given it believed it had fulfilled all the criteria set by the IOC EB in December.

IWF president Tamas Ajan said: “We are very proud of the excellent progress we have made in such a short period of time and we are already seeing the positive outcome of the measures we have implemented. Cultures in countries with high historical incidences of doping will not change overnight, but we are moving in the right direction and were pleased the IOC acknowledged this. The IWF has sent out a very clear message that doping will not be tolerated.

“We are confident that the IOC will be satisfied by the positive outcome of the measures we have introduced with their approval, and we are grateful to have the support and partnership of the IOC in ensuring that clean competition for weightlifting.”

In other news, the IOC has recommended that all international sports organisations should “carefully consider” their options before assigning event hosting rights to Serbia or Kosovo. The IOC spoke out after discussing the difficulties encountered by the delegation of Kosovo in participating in May’s European Senior Karate Championships in Serbia.

The IOC noted that all sports institutions directly involved in the event did their best to ensure that Kosovo would be able to participate, with an agreement reached prior to the event with the Serbian government in this respect.

The IOC added: “Unfortunately, due to last-minute operational and procedural issues, the participation of Kosovo was not made possible. It was difficult to categorically determine the reason why the practical implementation of the agreement failed.

“This shows that, in spite of good intentions from all sides concerned, the political situation between Serbia and Kosovo makes it extremely difficult in practice for both countries to host an international sporting event involving athletes from this region.”