By Karolos Grohmann
BUENOSAIRES (Reuters) – The international boxing association (AIBA) must resolve its governance issues by next month or risk missing out on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and losing its recognition by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the IOC warned on Wednesday.
The IOC has warned AIBA before to sort out its finances, the sport’s governance and anti-doping issues or risk missing out on the Tokyo 2020 Games.
But an AIBA progress report in May did not satisfy the IOC which said it would review the matter after the AIBA Congress and elections for president on Nov. 2-3 in Moscow.
“The Executive Board of the IOC today expressed its ongoing extreme concern with the grave situation within the International Boxing Association (AIBA) and its current governance,” the ruling body said in a statement.
“These include the circumstances of the establishment of the election list and the misleading communication within the AIBA membership regarding the IOC’s position.”
AIBA has been in turmoil for several years and its former president Wu Ching-kuo was suspended in 2017 before stepping down over governance and finance issues.
He was briefly replaced by Franco Falcinelli before Uzbek businessman Gafur Rahimov became interim president in January, 2018 at an extraordinary congress in Dubai.
Rahimov is also the only candidate for the presidency in next month’s vote but his presence on the United States Department of the Treasury’s sanctions list has triggered the ire of the IOC.
The U.S. body says Rahimov is on the list “for providing material support” to a criminal organisation, a claim Rahimov strongly denies.
“Such behaviour is affecting not just the reputation of AIBA and boxing but of sport in general,” the IOC said.
“Therefore, the IOC reiterates its clear position that if the governance issues are not properly addressed to the satisfaction of the IOC at the forthcoming AIBA Congress, the existence of boxing on the Olympic Programme and even the recognition of AIBA as an International Federation recognised by the IOC is under threat.”
IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the Olympic body would find some way for boxers not to be punished for the mistakes of their international federation but how that would happen was not yet clear.
“Their (Olympic) place is in jeopardy,” Adams told reporters. “What we are saying is that we will work that athletes can still take part in some way. But this is all still hypothetical.”
The IOC’s ethics chief has written to Rahimov to express his organisation’s dissatisfaction.
“I cannot divulge the contents of the letter but we have communicated our position,” Adams said.
The IOC has frozen any payments to the association though it is not the first time AIBA has had IOC funds blocked.
The Olympic ruling body withheld payments of more than $1 million of television rights from the 2004 Athens Olympics after a refereeing scandal at those Games.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond)