2020 Olympic organizers working for boxing at Games despite freeze

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said that while “official level contact” was halted by the International Olympic Committee’s decision, working-level contact with International Boxing Association would continue. (AFP)
Updated 01 December 2018
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2020 Olympic organizers working for boxing at Games despite freeze

  • “We will make efforts in preparation so that we have no delay in responding to the eventual decision which might come to implement the competition (of boxing)”
  • The IOC’s final decision on whether to include boxing in the 2020 program is not expected until next June

TOKYO: The organizers of Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics said Saturday they would continue working to stage a boxing tournament at the games despite a freeze by the International Olympic Committee.
On Friday, the IOC said it was freezing preparations for boxing at the 2020 Games and launched a probe into the sport’s troubled governing body — the International Boxing Association (AIBA).
It said it wanted the sport included in 2020, but warned its inquiry could see boxing excluded.
On Saturday, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said that while “official level contact” was halted by the IOC’s decision, working-level contact with AIBA would continue.
“Working level contact is allowed, that’s our understanding. So we will liaise, we will keep our collaboration, coordination,” he told reporters after a meeting with the IOC’s executive board in Tokyo.
“We will make efforts in preparation so that we have no delay in responding to the eventual decision which might come to implement the competition (of boxing),” he added.
“Venue preparation will proceed accordingly.”
The IOC’s final decision on whether to include boxing in the 2020 program is not expected until next June, Muto said.
But he sought to reassure athletes that Tokyo would be ready if the IOC permitted a boxing tournament at the Games.
“Regarding the preparations, no worries, that’s what I want to say to the athletes,” he said.
The IOC says it has concerns about the “governance, ethics and financial management” of AIBA, which last month elected as president a controversial Uzbek businessman linked to organized crime by the US Treasury Department — a claim he denies.
Qualifiers for the 2020 boxing tournament have been put on hold, the only sport not to have its qualifiers proved and a step described as “very significant” and possibly unprecedented.
Relations between the IOC and AIBA took a dive at the 2016 Rio Olympics when 36 officials and referees were suspended amid allegations of bout fixing.
Ties were further battered earlier this month when AIBA elected Gafur Rakhimov as leader, who strenuously rejects the charges from the US Treasury Department.
AIBA made a last-ditch bid to persuade the IOC that it had cleaned up its act, issuing a flurry of statements lauding its own efforts on financing and judging.
But while the IOC has acknowledged progress on judging, refereeing and anti-doping, it said there were still a “whole range” of issues on governance.
Boxing has an ancient Olympic tradition and has featured at every modern games since 1904, expect the 1912 Games in Stockholm because Swedish law at the time banned the sport.


Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

Updated 21 March 2019
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Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

  • Former Saudi Arabia coach wants to guide the Whites to their first World Cup since 1990.
  • "If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here," Dutchman says of his new job.

LONDON: Bert van Marwijk has told the UAE he only has one thing on his mind: Getting the side to the 2022 World Cup. 

The former Saudi Arabia boss was unveiled as the new coach of the Whites before watching his new team beat his former team 2-1 in a friendly in Dubai (see right). While he was in the stand rather than the dugout — interim boss Saleem Abdelrahman took charge — he would have liked what he saw as he set himself the challenge of leading the UAE to their first showpiece since 1990. 

“I’m here for only one thing, and that’s to qualify for the World Cup,” the Dutchman said.  

“It takes a long time and the first thing we have to deal with is the first qualification round. That’s why I’m here.”

Van Marwijk was celebrated after he led the Green Falcons to last year's World Cup before calling it quits. (AFP) 

Van Marwijk guided Saudi Arabia to last year’s World Cup — the Green Falcons’ first appearance at the showpiece for 12 years — during a two-year stint which ended in September 2017.

That was one of the key reasons the UAE fought hard for the 66-year-old and while it is never easy getting through Asian qualifying — 46 teams going for just four direct slots at Qatar 2022 — the Dutchman claimed his experience, combined with his knowledge of the UAE, will stand him in good stead. 

“The Saudis and the UAE are about the same level. With the Saudis we qualified for Russia, so we will do really everything to go to Qatar in 2022,” Van Marwijk said. 

While he is fondly remembered in the Kingdom — only a contractual dispute regarding backroom staff meant he did not stay on as Green Falcons coach for the Russia tournament — it is his time as the Netherlands coach that really stands out on his managerial resume. Van Marwijk coached the Oranje to within minutes of the World Cup trophy, with only an Andres Iniesta extra-time winner preventing him from tasting ultimate glory against Spain in 2010. 

So why did he return to the Gulf for another crack at World Cup qualification in a tough, crowded race? 

“One of the reasons is the feeling. I have to have the right feeling when I sign a contract,” Van Marwijk said. “We analyzed the UAE, we played four times against each other with Saudi, so I can see the potential.

“I have had the experience to go to the World Cup twice. The first time we were second in the world, the second time was with Australia (which he coached last summer) and we were a little bit unlucky — we played very well. 

“So to go to the World Cup for the third time is the goal.”

Van Marwijk is all too aware his task will be difficult. The “Golden Generation” of Emirati footballers, spearheaded by Omar Abdulrahman, tried and failed to make it to football’s biggest tournament, and a lot of the next three years’ work will likely depend on a new generation.

“I heard there were some young talents, so I’m anxious to know how good they are,” the Dutchman said. “I know the team has a few very good players — the UAE has a few weapons. 

“That’s the most important thing. If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here.”