The global sporting administrative elite are gathered in Tokyo this week to discuss issues facing the Olympic movement. These went beyond the usual “how to extract millions of dollars from a few new host cities” concerns to encompass recognizing new sports like kickboxing and the Russian martial art sambo and figuring what the hell to do with boxing.
That last one’s tricky. The IOC announced that it’s investigating the International Boxing Association (AIBA) for “governance, ethics, and financial management.” This move means that the IOC has, for now, suspended planning for the boxing tournament at the 2020 Olympics.
Part of the IOC’s issues with AIBA stems from its recent election of Gafur Rakhimov from Uzbekistan as president. Rakhimov is described by the U.S. Treasury Department as a “key member and associate of a transnational organized criminal network.” When I started writing this post and googled Rakhimov like the professional journalist I am, I couldn’t help but notice that the first autofill option was “Interpol.” The fourth autofill suggestion is “Boxing.”
Though the IOC was openly opposed to Rakhimov becoming head of AIBA, he was elected president earlier this month in Moscow under circumstances that are ludicrous even by Olympic standards.
From the Guardian:
Rakhimov was elected on Saturday after defeating his sole rival, Serik Konakbayev, by 86 votes to 48. But only after the electronic system had refused to work and Aiba was force to construct a makeshift voting booth made with tables stacked together and covered with sheets. To make matters worse, ballot papers needed to be put into a cardboard box with the logo of the French gardening company Leroy Merlin on it.
Despite halting all planning for 2020 boxing event, the IOC is claiming that boxing will still somehow be a part of the next Olympics.
The only certainty in this mess is that the athletes, who still have to train while their Olympic fate is in limbo, will probably wind up getting fucked over. Right now, though, the how’s and why’s of that still seem very much up in the air.