THE threat is real. The IOC, the International Olympic Committee, couldn’t have made it more clear that boxing could be eliminated from the Olympic Games as soon as Tokyo 2020.

After its Executive Board meeting today, the IOC announced that they remained dissatisfied with AIBA, the governing body for Olympic boxing, and that its ruling to suspend all payments to AIBA, which was made in December, would remain in place.

The IOC Executive Board was not satisfied with the report prepared by AIBA on its governance, finance, refereeing and anti-doping issues. They stated clearly that they could exclude boxing from both the Youth Olympic Games this year and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The IOC is even opening an investigation into the governance of AIBA, which will be carried out by their Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer. They have frozen all contacts with AIBA, except the ones on the working level which are necessary to implement the respective IOC decisions, and expect another report from the boxing body, which would need to be delivered by April 30.

In their statement they also emphasised that decisions regarding the event and athlete quota for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 are final, in the case of boxing this refers to the decision to reduce the number of men’s weight divisions from 10 to eight and increase the number of women’s weight categories from three to five. AIBA have to make a decision on which men’s divisions will be removed, so far they appear resistant.

Olympic boxing

The 2016 Olympic Games were plagued by accusations that officiating in bouts had been manipulated. AIBA caused further controversy, as we reported last week, when Gafur Rakhimov, a man with alleged links to organised crime and a someone who has been sanctioned by the US Treasury department no less, was appointed their Interim president.

The IOC is “extremely worried” about the situation at the sport’s governing body and their latest ruling has emphasised how high the stakes really are for boxing.

But AIBA’s response was combative rather than conciliatory. “This decision is extremely disappointing for AIBA as it hoped the IOC Executive Board would have understood that the processes necessary to implement even more measures require more time and that the positive steps already taken in recent times are evidence of AIBA’s strong efforts and willingness to reform,” they said in a statement. “Over the next six months AIBA will be in the process of a complete organisational review, which will lead to the ‘New Foundation Plan’ for AIBA. This plan and the recommendations produced will be discussed during the AIBA Executive Committee meeting in July and an update will be provided to the IOC in the requested April 30 report.

“In the meantime, AIBA will continue its efforts to convince the IOC of its determination to not repeat any of the past mistakes and its commitment to a fresh, positive future centered on good governance and sound management.”