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Update Just in:  WBAN calls upon the AIBA to issue a clear statement Olympic Qualifiers
by Sue Fox & Michael O'Neill
January 15, 2016

UPDATE:  WBAN understands from ‘sources close to the AIBA’ that the European Olympic Qualifiers will now start on April 7th following representations from a number of National Federations, boxers and coaches. The original date was April 20th. We also learn that Samsun on the Black Sea in Northern Turkey is the likely venue should further terrorist attacks lead the AIBA Executive and its Security Advisors to conclude that the safety of boxers, coaches and officials cannot be guaranteed in Istanbul. The AIBA is monitoring the situation daily and as always WBAN will update you when further news reaches us.

(JAN 15)  Tuesday’s terrorist attack in Istanbul in which at least eight German tourists were killed and scores of innocent bystanders injured could not have come at a worse time for the International Boxing Association (AIBA) as the Olympic qualifiers (male and female) are scheduled to take place in Istanbul in April.

Already heavily criticised by coaches and boxers in Europe for their failure to confirm the exact dates and where in Istanbul the event will be held, there was further confusion when the AIBA confirmed 5 January that there would be no seeding for the event (and presumably this will also apply to other Confederation Olympic qualifiers like the AMBC event in Buenos Aires in March.

As the Olympic Games is the biggest AIBA showcase event for boxers, coaches and spectators worldwide why would the AIBA not wish to ensure that the public both in Rio and worldwide with billions watching on TV or via Live Streaming, see the cream of their boxers in action? There is a very real risk that with no seeding, many of the world ranked boxers could all end up in the same half of the draw leaving ‘lesser lights’ to qualify for Rio.

WBAN understands that several of its own federations are already unhappy with the fact that no date or actual venue has been set for these qualifiers in Europe – boxers need to prepare and Federations and their coaches need to plan training camps, book flights etc. months in advance. Is it that the AIBA Executive do not consider such ‘mundane’ matters?

Do they not realise that National Federations and coaches have also to look at dates for tournaments leading up to qualifiers so their boxers are in best shape when the qualifiers do take place?

WBAN calls upon the AIBA to issue a clear statement on the above issues but in particular what assurances can they give regarding the safety of boxers, coaches, referees and judges as well as spectators of ALL nationalities IF the event goes ahead as planned in Istanbul (or elsewhere in Turkey)?

It is of course particularly disappointing that again in 2016 (as in 2012) there will be only three weights for women – as against 10 for men – in Rio.

AIBA celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2016 and in his annual address to the ‘AIBA family’ (inc boxers and fans worldwide) Dr Ching-Kuo Wu had this to say:

“Rio 2016 will serve to further enhance both the men’s and women’s boxing prestige, and with 60 boxers out of 286 already qualified, the remaining quota places available at continental championships and International tournaments taking place throughout the first half of the year mean they assume an added importance.

“Olympic qualification opportunities are sure to bring out the very best in our boxers in the first half of this year”, said AIBA President CK Wu. “This is the world’s biggest sporting stage and the competition for places at Rio 2016 will make for an unmissable series of major tournaments, as well as the Women’s World Championships.”

"We always want to move forward, evolve and look to broaden the appeal of our great sport," Dr. Wu added.

"But we will never lose sight of our guiding principles, at the centre of which is the health and well-being of our boxers.

Rio will further enhance the reputation and standing of women in our sport as the Olympic Games represent a fantastic stage to foster gender equality in the world of sport.”

Whilst WBAN heartily endorses the need to ‘foster gender equality in the world of sport’ one wonders how the AIBA believes that it – and the IOC – are achieving that aim since they ‘promised’ that as long ago as the final day of the 2012 London Olympics?

The AIBA of course has effectively pointed the finger at the IOC but ‘it takes two to tango’ as the saying goes and since the IOC guaranteed the same number of places for boxers (286) in Rio as in London them perhaps Dr. Wu could tell us why the AIBA simply did recommend to the IOC two more weights for women albeit at the expense of men? In the unlikely event that they did ,then why did the IOC not accept that recommendation?

For now though the most pressing issue that needs IMMEDIATE action from the AIBA is that of the European Olympic qualifiers set for Istanbul in Turkey in April.

Be sure we will keep you abreast of developments here.

CNN’s latest update on the terrorist attacks in Istanbul is here: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/01/12/europe/turkey-istanbul-explosion/

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