Boxing body near bankrupt, facing 2020 Olympic exclusion
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The International Boxing Association is near bankruptcy, days before a decision to formally exclude the body from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
AIBA executive director Tom Virgets told board members it will be insolvent if International Olympic Committee members derecognize the troubled body next Wednesday.
The full IOC membership is expected to sign off on recommendations made last month by its executive board, which would deny AIBA its expected $17.5 million share of Tokyo Games commercial revenue and cut off the men’s and women’s 2019 world championships in Russia as qualifying paths.
“In my opinion, the decisions made by the IOC were clearly designed to bankrupt AIBA,” Virgets wrote in a letter seen by The Associated Press. “Every source of income that AIBA had going forward was taken away.”
The IOC board, chaired by President Thomas Bach, discussed the Tokyo boxing tournaments again Wednesday. However, there were no detailed talks about AIBA’s financial and staffing issues, IOC sports director Kit McConnell said.
AIBA has less than $400,000 in the bank and cannot afford to challenge any IOC ruling at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Virgets wrote to senior officials.
The boxing body is also releasing all but three staff from its Lausanne offices, close to the IOC’s new lakeside headquarters which opened this month and cost around 145 million Swiss francs ($145 million).
Virgets said he also is leaving, explaining “It is the correct thing to do” because he failed in his mandate to keep AIBA involved in the Tokyo Olympics.
AIBA plans to hold an executive committee meeting one day after its Olympic fate is likely sealed.
The IOC board wants AIBA excluded after appointing an inquiry panel to investigate its finances, governance, and the integrity of judging and refereeing in Olympic bouts, including at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
A key factor against AIBA was its members having elected Gafur Rakhimov as president last year while on a U.S. sanctions list with suspected links to organized crime. He denies wrongdoing.
The IOC detailed its plans Wednesday for a fresh qualification program next year to send male and female boxers to 13 medal events in Tokyo.
The eight men’s weight classes are a reduction of two from Rio, with two women’s classes added to make five.
Four regional qualification tournaments are planned between January and April — in the Americas, Africa, a combined Asia-Oceania region, and Europe — with a final global qualifier, likely in May, McConnell said. Past and future Olympic host cities should host the qualifiers.
After the previous AIBA president, long-time IOC member C.K. Wu, sought to put professional boxers into the Olympic tournaments, that is not a priority for Tokyo.
McConnell said national Olympic teams could choose to enter pro boxers, who would have to go through the full qualifying program.