In a bid to restore trust in the scoring of boxing matches at the Olympics, scores will be displayed at the end of each round. That’s the biggest change proposed for the tournament in Tokyo by the IOC, which took over control in June when it suspended the international federation AIBA. The rules were released Wednesday by the IOC.
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Suspension of AIBA came after more than three years of problems at the federation. At the 2016 Olympics, all 36 referees and judges were dismissed over concerns about match-fixing. Organizationally, AIBA has endured four changes in the presidency in three years. Now it teeters on the verge of bankruptcy due to debt encumbered to salvage AIBA’s now-defunct professional league.
In place of AIBA, an IOC-organized task force is supervising the Olympic boxing, led by IOC member Morinari Watanabe. He’s also president of the International Gymnastics Federation.
“The main objective of the IOC Boxing Task Force is to ensure the completion of the mission of delivering events, while putting the boxers first, and with transparent and credible sporting results and fair play,” says Watanabe.
He says that while amendments are being made to the AIBA rules, he also says care was taken not to make drastic changes with the Olympics looming.
“It is only fair to the boxers not to change the fundamental competition rules so close to the Olympic qualifiers and the Olympic competition in Tokyo. The IOC Boxing Task Force has therefore focused on the full review of the rules enforced by AIBA in the current year of 2019, limiting changes that impact boxers while increasing transparency by displaying the scoring and in the selection process for referees and judges,” Watanabe says.
Special attention has been paid to how referees and judges will be selected for Tokyo. No referees who participated in Rio are permitted to be selected for Tokyo. Also excluded are any current members of the AIBA Executive Committee as well as presidents and secretary’s general of national federations. Any member of the AIBA executive in the past three years is also barred from Tokyo.
The change in the rules on scoring comes with the blessings of a group of Athlete Ambassadors named by the IOC to provide their advice on repairing Olympic boxing.
The unprecedented action of the IOC to suspend an international federation before the Games has prompted extra measures to serve boxers hoping to compete in Tokyo. The IOC website for athletes includes a dedicated page for boxing “In Your Corner” that explains the process underway. A brief video includes encouraging words from boxers Wladimir Klitschko and Mary Kom.