Bach reassures athletes Olympic boxing tournament will be held at Tokyo 2020

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach attends a press conference in Tokyo on December 1, 2018. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

TOKYO, 03 DECEMBER 2018 (INSIDE THE GAMES) – International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has reassured athletes there will be a boxing tournament at Tokyo 2020 as he highlighted International Boxing Association (AIBA) head Gafur Rakhimov’s inability to “exercise his full function” as a key concern.

Bach claimed here that the IOC “want to have a boxing tournament at the Games in Tokyo and we will make all efforts to have it”, despite the Executive Board deciding to freeze planning for the sport at the event owing to issues with AIBA.

The IOC has also began an inquiry into AIBA, which could lead to them losing the right to organise the Olympic boxing competition.

Bach’s comments today suggest a boxing event at Tokyo 2020 will be held in some form.

The IOC remain hopeful, though, the threat of further sanctions against AIBA will force change at the troubled organisation.

Bach admitted that Rakhimov being included on a United States Treasury Department sanctions list, meaning he is unable to travel to certain countries, is one of the major problems the IOC has with AIBA.

The fact that AIBA is unable to maintain or open a bank account in Switzerland, as revealed by insidethegames last week, was also directly referenced by the IOC President as a principle concern.

The Lausanne-based Banque Cantonale Vaudoise closed AIBA’s account owing to the “reputational risk” of being associated with a worldwide governing body led by Rakhimov.

Bach insisted there was “not a personal issue” between the IOC and Rakhimov, who the Treasury Department describe as “one of Uzbekistan’s leading criminals”.

Rakhimov has tried to assure the IOC the accusations against him were “false allegations by the previous regime of my country” and claimed he was “working hard” to get his name removed from the list in response to the Executive Board’s decision yesterday.

“If you see the decision of the IOC Executive Board then it becomes very clear that what we are concerned about is that he cannot exercise the full function of the President with the restrictions which are going along with being on the list and its effect on the running of AIBA,” Bach said.

Bach also revealed the IOC had received a request from the Japanese Boxing Association pleading with them to ensure a boxing competition is held at Tokyo 2020.

He claimed the IOC were “absolutely in line” with this appeal.

“We will make all efforts to protect the athletes like we always do when it comes to questions of the Olympic Games when it comes to sanctioning an organisation related to the Games,” Bach said following the conclusion of the two-day IOC Executive Board meeting here.

“For the first time, if my memory is not wrong, it concerns an IF (International Federation), so we will make all efforts and of course there will be talks there.

“Yes, we want to have one and this is why we will work hard for the athletes.

“It is always the same, we do not want to athletes to suffer from misbehaviour of officials or people and we will ensure they are not related with the misbehaviour of people with whom they have nothing to do.”

The IOC still has other ongoing concerns about AIBA, including the integrity of its competitions and financial management.

The problems which remain for AIBA forced the IOC to launch an inquiry, led by Executive Board member Nenad Lalovic, into the governing body.

The inquiry will assess these concerns, including the election of Rakhimov as President at the AIBA Congress in Moscow last month.

The inquiry will be conducted over the coming months before the committee, which also includes athletes’ representative Emma Terho and Bach’s closest challenger in the 2013 Presidential election Richard Carrion, provides a recommendation to the IOC Executive Board.

IOC sports director Kit McConnell revealed the target was to have the final confirmation on whether there will be an Olympic boxing event – and who will organise it – by the Session in Lausanne next June.

Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshirō Mutō made a more concrete affirmation of the June date but it is up to the IOC, and not the Organising Committee, to decide.

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