IOC wants to remove boxing body AIBA from 2020 Olympics
Sport's 13 medal events would remain on Summer Games program in Tokyo
Dealing a blow to Olympic boxing officials after months of investigations, the International Olympic Committee 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 in Lausanne, Switzerland, proposed suspending AIBA — a move that will go before the full IOC membership at its June 24-26 annual meeting. However, the IOC intends to keep boxing's 13 medal events on the Tokyo program.
AIBA's finances, governance and integrity of judging and refereeing have been investigated for six months by an inquiry panel of three IOC members, which published its report Wednesday.
A key factor proved to be the continued influence of Gafur Rakhimov, AIBA's president from Uzbekistan who stepped aside in March. He is on a U.S. Treasury Department sanctions list for suspected links to organized crime and international heroin trafficking.
The Lausanne-based boxing organization now looks sure to be being rejected next month despite wide-ranging reforms since longtime president C.K. Wu, who remains an IOC member, was forced out in 2017.
Task force to examine organizing qualifying events
"There has been a lack of satisfactory progress," said the IOC, whose board followed the inquiry panel's recommendations that all areas of concern were unresolved.
Though Russian boxing official Umar Kremlev has publicly offered to clear AIBA's $16 million US debts, the inquiry report questioned the due diligence of "background checks on the origin of funds."
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.
The boxing body said it will seek "further clarification" about the report, adding it "does look forward to working with the IOC in the future."
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.
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.
The boxing body did not immediately respond to the IOC's plan of action.
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.
13 medal events
"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 Olympics in Rio, 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.
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.
The IOC increased scrutiny of AIBA after Wu resigned under pressure from AIBA member federations. Those same national boxing bodies later defied warnings from the IOC's ethics commission of the potential consequences of electing Rakhimov.
In its final report, the IOC inquiry report also criticized AIBA's ethics and election oversight panels, claiming "none of these bodies seriously considered his [Rahkimov's] situation."
The IOC board ordered the formal inquiry within weeks of Rakhimov's election, and also barred AIBA officials from contacting Tokyo organizers.
Offering a path back Wednesday, the IOC said: "The status of AIBA's full recognition will in principle be reviewed after Tokyo 2020" — if it could make "further fundamental change."