Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy has vowed that Irish fighters will continue to prepare ‘to the highest standards’ despite a row that threatens boxing’s participation in the 2020 Olympic Games.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) yesterday announced its intention to ‘freeze planning for the Olympic boxing tournament at Tokyo 2020’ ahead of an inquiry into the International Boxing Association (AIBA).
Treacy admitted the news is a devastating blow for young Irish Olympic hopefuls.
He said: “Sport Ireland is deeply concerned, but not surprised, by the IOC announcement. The IOC have been clear on their position on this matter. When Gafur Rakhimov was elected as the President earlier this month, AIBA and the international boxing community would have been acutely aware of the IOC’s warning that the election of Rakhimov as president would jeopardise boxing’s place on the programme for Tokyo 2020.
“AIBA’s long-standing governance concerns and the issues that exist between AIBA and the IOC are of significant concern to Sport Ireland. The election of Rakhimov is not the only governance issue of note within AIBA. The current situation creates great uncertainty for the outstanding athletes within Ireland’s boxing high-performance programme.
“There had already been significant worry that the qualification pathway for Tokyo had not been announced. Sport Ireland will continue to monitor the situation and, in the meantime, work with the IABA to prepare Ireland’s boxers to the highest standards in the hope that a resolution is found to the current situation.”
Indeed Olympic silver medallist John Joe Nevin believes that amateur boxing would be devastated if it is banned from the Games.
“There would be no point in being an amateur without the biggest prize (Olympics). Boxing has always been part of the Olympics. It would be devastating and very sad if we lose our Olympic status,” said Nevin who has since turned pro and will have his 11th fight in London next month.
Former Irish head coach Billy Walsh, now chief seconds with the USA, believes Rakhimov should consider his position. “If it comes to a situation where boxing is going to be put out of the Olympics Games because of one man then he should take a sidestep and allow the sport to continue.”