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IOC Pulling No Punches in Attempting to Clean Up Boxing

11 Dec, 2019

By: Michael Popke

Olympic boxing qualifying events and the boxing tournament at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo will include end-of-round scoring displays and other measures aimed at increasing clarity, transparency and integrity in the sport, according to the International Olympic Committee’s Boxing Task Force.

“The main objective of the IOC Boxing Task Force is to ensure the completion of the mission of delivering events, while putting the boxers first, and with transparent and credible sporting results and fair play,” Morinari Watanabe, chair of the task force, said in a statement. “It is only fair to the boxers not to change the fundamental competition rules so close to the Olympic qualifiers and the Olympic competition in Tokyo. The IOC Boxing Task Force has therefore focused on the full review of the rules enforced by AIBA [the International Boxing Association] in the current year of 2019, limiting changes which impact on boxers while increasing transparency by displaying the scoring and in the selection process for referees and judges.”

Additionally, as ESPN reported, the 36 boxing referees and judges who worked the 2016 Olympics in Rio — and were suspended following allegations that fights were fixed — will not be allowed to officiate at the 2020 Games.

According to the IOC, “all officials will be selected from the IOC Boxing Task Force pool of eligible officials, which will consist of qualified AIBA-certified individuals who have been reviewed to ensure they meet the selection criteria. The IOC Boxing Task Force will then randomly select every official for each competition from the pool of eligible individuals.”

“Judges will be under more pressure to perform and should they not be educated enough, we can remove them,” Watanabe told the Olympics news website Inside the Games.

Meanwhile, AIBA remains suspended by the IOC and will not be involved in organizing boxing competition for Tokyo 2020. (In early 2018, reports came out that boxing as a whole would not be included in the Olympics; however, athletes will be allowed to represent their countries in 2020.)

“AIBA has been on the ropes for several years as it has struggled to answer questions about its finances, governance and refereeing standards,” reports The Independent, a British online news site. “[B]ut its relationship with the IOC reached a new low when it elected Gafur Rakhimov as president [in] November [2018], despite the Uzbek being on a United States sanctions list for alleged involvement with a global crime network.”

Amateur and youth boxing in the U.S. appears – for now – to be safe from problems. However, it will behoove organizers to ascertain that rules are followed and that as much transparency as possible is used in scoring events.

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