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

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.


Dakar Rally stars gear up for ‘thrilling’ Saudi race challenge

The first stage of Rally Qassim began in Umm Sidra covering a distance of 170km. Several drivers are keen to test before the Dakar Rally crosses the country for the first time in January 2020. (SPA)
Updated 24 min 50 sec ago

Dakar Rally stars gear up for ‘thrilling’ Saudi race challenge

  • French driver Stéphane Peterhansel, a 13-time winner of the Dakar Rally, revealed that he was initially surprised to hear that the competition had been moved from Africa to Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Dakar Rally drivers are gearing up for a “thrilling and exciting” challenge when the world-famous desert race is staged in Saudi Arabia for the first time next year.
The Kingdom will host the event from Jan. 5 to 17, 2020 with top racers from around the globe traveling thousands of kilometers through inhospitable terrain in cars, trucks and on quad bikes and motorcycles.
The rally will begin in Jeddah and follow a tough route through desert, sand dunes and mountainous areas taking in NEOM, the Red Sea Project, Riyadh and Qiddiya.
French driver Stéphane Peterhansel, a 13-time winner of the Dakar Rally, revealed that he was initially surprised to hear that the competition had been moved from Africa to Saudi Arabia.
“However, after doing some research, I realized that Saudi Arabia was a very wonderful and suitable country for the rally. It has different terrain types, and I expect us to have a perfect track. The vast desert gives me hope that the 2020 Saudi Dakar Rally will be more thrilling and exciting than Africa,” he said.
Five-time Dakar Rally winner and fellow French driver, Cyril Despres, said that racing in Saudi Arabia would be a new adventure that could only be experienced by those who lived up to its challenges.
“When I heard that the Dakar Rally was moving for the first time to the Middle East, I remembered the words of its founder, Thierry Sabine, who said that if you liked exploring the African continent, you would also love exploring other parts of the world,” he added.

Positive move
British rally raid motorcycle rider, Sam Sunderland, who won his category in the 2017 Dakar Rally, said he was delighted to be participating in the Saudi race. “I believe that this change is good, as I have lived in Dubai for 10 years, having adapted well to the Middle East’s atmosphere.

When I heard that the Dakar Rally was moving for the first time to the Middle East, I remembered the words of its founder, Thierry Sabine, who said that if you liked exploring the African Continent, you would also love exploring other parts of the world.

Cyril Despres, French driver

“Exploring a new area is a positive move for the Dakar Rally, and I am certain that everyone who practices this sport is excited to explore a new ground for racing,” Sunderland added.
ED Racing Team driver, Issa Al-Dossari, said the main reason he had taken part in Rally Qassim was to prepare for the Dakar challenge.
“We will be using two cars in the rally. We look forward to raising the level of preparedness for many coming global events. But this does not mean that we will not compete for the top places.”
Al-Dossari invited sports fans to visit the team’s headquarters at Date City to see equipment and meet its members.
The team must participate in two different cars, the first driven by Al-Dossari with his French navigator Sébastien Delaunay, and the second with Emirati Abdallah Al-Huraiz behind the wheel and Ali Hassan navigating.
The first stage of Rally Qassim began on Friday in Umm Sidra covering a distance of 170 km, with stage two raced over 200 km.
Meanwhile, entry registrations for the Dakar Rally are still open in all categories at https://www.dakar.com/en/the-competitors/register.