By Jack Tarrant
TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo 2020 organizers welcomed on Thursday the International Olympic Committee’s recommendation to include boxing at next year’s Games.
The IOC executive board recommended on Wednesday that boxing should keep its place at the Tokyo Games but recognition of AIBA, the governing body of the sport’s amateur version, should be suspended.
The recommendations came as the IOC published a 30-page report following an inquiry into the finances and governance of AIBA which has been in turmoil for years.
The IOC have instead set up a task force, led by IOC member and International Gymnastics Federation head Morinari Watanabe, to organize boxing in Tokyo.
“Of course it is the most important thing for the athletes who have been training and preparing for this,” said John Coates, the man entrusted by the IOC to oversee the smooth running of the Games, following meetings in Tokyo.
“(There is) obviously much work to be done by Mr. Watanabe’s committee but we have got no doubt that with the cooperation of the organizing committee we can meet the expectations and dreams of all athletes.”
The IOC has made gender equality a priority leading into Tokyo 2020 yet at the last two Olympics there have been three boxing medal events for women and 10 for men.
“You can be assured that whoever organizes the Olympic competition, we will insist on this principle of gender equality for boxing,” IOC President Thomas Bach said earlier this month.
The 60-year-old Watanabe said on Thursday he understood the importance of gender equality but is still getting to grips with the world of boxing.
“Gender equality is common sense,” added Watanabe, who said he only found out about his new responsibilities when Bach called to interrupt his dinner two nights ago.
“Sport is just an element within that common sense.”
Watanabe was less sure when pressed on whether he would consult professional boxing organizations.
“Sorry, I have no idea. I don’t know the organizations of boxing in the world,” he said.
“I want to listen to many people’s opinions so I want to find the best way… for the athletes and for justice.”
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Toby Davis)