(ATR) The 2019 AIBA men’s world championships are underway in Russia. Unlike tournaments of the past, this year’s world championships will not be eligible as an Olympic qualifier due to the suspension of the federation by the IOC.
First bouts started Sept. 9. (AIBA)
AIBA has been under the watch of the IOC since 2017 when it suspended payments to the federation over concerns about governance, refereeing and other issues. In June, the IOC took the additional step of suspending AIBA from its role organizing boxing at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, including qualification for the Games.
Nonetheless 365 athletes from 78 countries will still compete through Sept. 21 in Ekaterinburg.
In his comments at the opening ceremony, AIBA Interim President Mohamed Moustahsane acknowledged the difficulties the federation faces.
Interim AIBA president Mohamed Moustahsane speaks st the opening ceremony. (AIBA)
“I want to say thank you to Russia which gathered us here to celebrate boxing, and which supports us with a great enthusiasm at these tough times,” said Moustahsane.
“The situation of AIBA hasn’t been the easiest one since months but being all united we can overcome it. World Championship is a great opportunity to show the whole world how strong and passionate about boxing we are,” he said.
The Russian Boxing Federation is providing financial and logistical support to make the tournament possible.
AIBA is nearly insolvent and its staff depleted. Ten days ago the AIBA Executive Committee fired its executive director, leaving a staff of three at the federation headquarters in Lausanne.
The support of the Russian Boxing Federation will be needed as well for the women’s
world championships in Ulan-Ude in October.
In a pre-recorded speech
for the opening ceremony that did not mention AIBA’s challenges, Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged continued support from the government for events like the world championships.
Vladimir Putin speaks at the AIBA ceremony. (AIBA)
“Support of sport initiatives, contribution to the organization of major international sports events have always been and will be among the priorities for Russia. We consider them as an important resource for promotion of healthy life style culture, strengthening of the basic sports principles in the society, equality, justice and mutual respect,” said Putin.
Action from Ekaterinburg is available for viewing at YouTube.
In the absence of AIBA for the Tokyo Olympics, the IOC is organizing regional qualification tournaments to be held next March.
Reported by Ed Hula.
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