By Karolos Grohmann
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) – The International Olympic Committee on Wednesday officially took over the boxing qualification and competition for next year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics and suspended international boxing federation AIBA following a vote at its session.
The IOC voted unanimously to implement a recommendation of its executive board to oust AIBA from the Tokyo 2020 Games over issues surrounding its finances and governance and suspend the body until the issues are resolved.
AIBA has been in turmoil over its finances and governance for years with the federation $16 million in debt and an ongoing bitter battle over the presidency that has split the body internally.
Serbian IOC member Nenad Lalovic, who heads an IOC task force to look into the ties with AIBA, earlier on Wednesday delivered a damning report to the IOC session, saying the association could reach a debt of as much as $29 million.
He also said AIBA had failed to reform at the top of the organisation.
AIBA president Gafur Rahimov suspended himself from the post in March because of his presence on an U.S. Treasury Department sanctions list “for providing material support” to a criminal organisation. The Uzbek strongly denies the allegations.
Rahimov’s presence on that sanctions list was extremely damaging to the IOC though he has been replaced on an interim basis by Mohamed Moustahsane.
“It exposes the IOC and its commercial partners to unacceptable reputational, legal and financial risks,” he said.
Lalovic said AIBA’s debt meant money would not go to sports and the athletes in the future and the organisation still faced problems with refereeing.
AIBA largely depends on Olympic Games revenues to survive between Games and has started letting people go as a result of its Olympic exclusion. The sport’s governing body will discuss the IOC decision at its Executive Committee meeting on Thursday.
Japanese IOC member Morinari Watanabe, president of the international gymnastics federation, heads the task force to organise qualifiers and the Tokyo Games competition.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)