The shoe may have finally dropped on Boxing in the Summer Olympics as the IOC is freezing the sport ahead of the 2020 Olympics games to be held in Tokyo.
It was announced that the International Olympic Committee was putting a freeze on the sport as it gets ready for the next games, causing some problems for the planned Boxing fights n Japan. This was done in response to the governing body of amateur boxing AIBA (Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur,) electing a new head of their organization in Gafur Rahimov, a businessman and former boxer and coach from Uzbekistan.
The main complaint from the IOC is the shadiness of Mr. Rahimov and his dealings. The biggest charge was made by the US Treasury Department that Mr. Rahimov had ties to Organized Crime. Mr. Rahimov has denied these claims but the accusations are still lingering. The IOC wants to conduct a probe of its own into the allegations and has announced this freeze as it does that.
The freeze that the IOC has issued means that AIBA can not hold any events or do anything official that involves the games. the IOC announced that any qualifying bouts for the Olympic competition have been put on hold for now. In the past games of 2016, Boxing tournaments were held in 13 weight classes, with 10 for the men and 3 for Women competitors. Qualifying for these Olympic tournaments was held at 7 different international tournaments in the years ahead of the games.
Depending on the results of the investigation, AIBA may lose its recognition as a governing body of Olympic boxing. The IOC has publically said that they are trying to make sure boxing is held at the Olympics but their interest is protecting the athletes, referees, and judges from anything shady going on.
While the investigation is focused on Gafur Rahimov specifically, Boxing at the Olympics themselves has had a cloud of doubt hanging over them for a number of games spanning decades. The judging of the tournaments has been looked at with suspicion for decades. The trouble seems to go back to the 1988 Summer games in Seoul, South Korea when middleweight Roy Jones lost a match against Park Si-Hun of South Korea when 3 of 5 judges awarded the fight to the homegrown South Korean in a fight many more thought that Jones had won. Since then AIBA and the IOC enacted a different scoring system where judges press buttons on an electronic controller. That change seemed to make the problems worse in the games the new system was used as it made it harder to find the sources of irregularities such and boxers getting knock off their feet but getting awarded points for a successful hit and cases where boxers would hit punches on their opponents but not be awarded any points. The electronic system was eliminated for the 2016 games but it did not end accusations of judges and referees tampering with the fights.
Things came to a breaking point between AIBA and the IOC as 36 officials and referees were sent home from Rio games in 2016. Most were related to corruption charges and taking bribes to influence the results of matches. The 2016 heavyweight final was under such controversy that when Evgeny Tishchenko of Russia won a unanimous decision on scores over Vasily Levit of Kazakhstan, the ruling was met by a hostel crowd both after the bout and during the medal ceremony. There were many other incidents during the boxing tournaments in 2016.
This freeze by the IOC may just be the Olympics trying to clean up the boxing competition and end a lot of the controversies that have dogged Olympic Boxing for decades. The election of Gafur Rahimov might have been just a catalyst to push for more changes and actually clean up the sport ahead of the next boxing competition in 2020.