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AIBA Exec Hits Back at IOC Prez Over Olympics 2020 Comments

The head of the international boxing federation has criticized IOC president Thomas Bach’s comments that Olympic officials could organize the Tokyo 2020 boxing tournament if the sport’s federation can’t get its affairs in order.

Bach said last weekend that the IOC wants the sport at next year’s Tokyo Games and is prepared to organize both the qualification and the competition if boxing’s troubled international governing body, the AIBA, loses its Olympic status over leadership and financial problems.

“Organizing a sports event is also not rocket science,” Bach told a meeting in Sydney on Saturday. “So I guess we will be able to manage it in the end. It’s a very universal sport, so we want to have boxing on the program. If the case arises ... we would have to make an effort then to have such a tournament.”

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AIBA executive director Tom Virgets said Bach’s comments belittled the job of international sports federations.

“We’re very concerned about it,” Virgets said in an interview with SNTV on Wednesday. “We have concerns about it mostly for the athletes and for the programs.

“We’re in the best position to ensure a good quality games. I think Mr. Bach’s statement ... is disappointing because I think we play a much more important role.”

Virgets said the AIBA had the institutional knowledge and “we understand the politics and all the behind the scenes things that take place.”

“We’ve spent a year and a half reforming and I think we’re in the best position because we have made all these corrective actions.”

Relations between the IOC and AIBA have been tense since Uzbekistan businessman Gafur Rakhimov was elected AIBA president in November, beating Kazakh candidate Serik Konakbayev.

The U.S. Treasury Department has alleged Rakhimov has links to organized crime and placed him under sanctions. Rakhimov denies the allegations.

AIBA risks being derecognized next month after an IOC inquiry panel reports. An IOC board meeting on May 22 will receive the inquiry report and can decide on what to do about the Tokyo tournament. The June 24-26 can then consider derecognizing the AIBA.

Until then, AIBA is banned from contacting 2020 Tokyo Olympic organizers.

Virgets said he hopes an agreement can be reached between his organization and the IOC ahead of next year’s games.

“If the IOC will talk to me, we can find a win-win solution if that is legitimately what we’re trying to find,” he said. “And I think that’s the only way to resolve this issue because right now the IOC doesn’t trust what AIBA is doing (and) we don’t trust what they’re doing.

“We need to come together and have conversation.”

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