TOKYO (Reuters) – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) put planning for the Tokyo 2020 boxing tournament on hold on Friday in a move that could see the governing body AIBA frozen out of the Games over a governance dispute.
The IOC said in a statement it had also launched an investigation into the International Boxing Association after AIBA submitted a progress report focussing on governance, financial management and sporting integrity.
It referred to that enquiry as “the initiation of a procedure which can lead to the withdrawal of recognition for AIBA” but said it still hoped boxing would be part of the programme.
“The IOC Executive Board makes all efforts to protect the athletes and ensure that a boxing tournament can take place at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 regardless of these measures,” it said.
The IOC’s Executive Board said planning for the Olympic boxing tournament had been frozen, with immediate effect, and contact suspended between AIBA and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee.
Planning for ticket sales, the approval and implementation of a qualification system, test event planning and finalisation of a competition schedule were also put on hold.
AIBA was also barred from using any Olympic properties, including the Olympic rings and Tokyo 2020 logo for any communications or promotional materials.
No deadline was set for further action but any decision to withdraw recognition from an international federation would have to be made at an IOC session. The next one is scheduled for June 2019.
AIBA has been in turmoil for years and the IOC has warned the Swiss-based body to sort out its finances and governance, as well as anti-doping issues, or risk missing out on the Tokyo Games.
The IOC executive board said progress had been made but points of “significant concern” remained.
They included doubts about AIBA’s ability to continue as a going concern.
“The IOC understands AIBA is unable to maintain or open a bank account in Switzerland, where its headquarters are based,” said the statement.
It also noted uncertainty about the role of president Gafur Rakhimov, an Uzbek, resulting from his “designation as a key member and associate of a transnational organised criminal network by the US Treasury Department”.
Rakhimov was one of two Olympic officials barred by the Australian government from attending the 2000 Sydney Games for security reasons.
Boxing has featured in all but one of the Summer Olympics since 1904 with Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, Anthony Joshua and Katie Taylor among those to have won gold medals and gone on to claim professional world titles.
(Writing by Alan Baldwin and Toby Davis; Editing by John O’Brien and Matthew Mpoke Bigg)