The Malta Independent 19 October 2019, Saturday

IOC wants to remove boxing body AIBA from Tokyo Olympics

Associated Press Wednesday, 22 May 2019, 18:21 Last update: about 6 months ago

Dealing a blow to Olympic boxing officials after months of investigations, the IOC has set up a vote next month on removing the sport's governing body AIBA from organizing bouts at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

The International Olympic Committee said its executive board on Wednesday proposed suspending AIBA — a move that will go before the full IOC membership at their June 24-26 annual meeting.

A new IOC-appointed task force will now look at how to organize men's and women's qualifying competitions from January to May, and the final tournaments in Tokyo which start in 14 months' time.

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AIBA's finances, governance and integrity of judging and refereeing have been investigated for six months by an inquiry panel of three IOC members.

The Lausanne-based boxing organization now risks being rejected despite wide-ranging reforms since longtime president C.K. Wu, an IOC member, was forced out in 2017.

"There has been a lack of satisfactory progress," said the IOC, whose board took recommendations from the final inquiry report during a day-long meeting Wednesday.

During the investigation, AIBA president Gafur Rakhimov stepped aside while on a U.S. Treasury Department sanctions list. Rakhimov denies links to organized crime in Uzbekistan and heroin trafficking.

AIBA can challenge any final decision by IOC members at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and later at Switzerland's supreme court. Federal judges can intervene in limited circumstances, such as if legal process was abused or a party was denied a fair hearing

Despite its issues with AIBA, the IOC has wanted to keep boxing on the Olympic program. The sport appeals to fans and broadcasters worldwide, and offers many countries the chance to win medals.

"We want to ensure that the athletes can live their dream and participate in the Olympic Games," IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement, "while drawing the necessary consequences for AIBA."

Boxing had 76 national teams competing in 13 medal events at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, in 10 men's weight categories and three for women. The Tokyo program is set to have eight men's events and five for women.

A total of 19 nations won at least one medal in Rio, including Mongolia and Venezuela. Uzbekistan topped the medals table with three golds and seven overall.

However, the Rio tournaments fueled long-standing doubts about the integrity of Olympic bouts. In Rio, AIBA under Wu's leadership sent home referees and judges it said fell short of expected standards.

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