International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach refused to guarantee boxing’s place at the Tokyo Olympics Saturday, despite having received a «pleading» request from the Japanese boxing federation that the sport remain a part of the 2020 games.
Bach also revealed that BMX and mountain bike cycling events and rugby may see their schedules shifted due to Tokyo’s sweltering summer heat, joining the discussion that has so far seen organizers hoping for earlier start times of the marathons and race walks.
Speaking at a Tokyo hotel following the conclusion of the two-day IOC executive board meeting, Bach said Olympic authorities «received a request from the national boxing federation of Japan pleading to have an Olympic tournament.»
A day earlier the Japan Amateur Boxing Federation President Sadanobu Uchida expressed disappointment with the IOC’s decision to begin a multi-faceted probe into the International Boxing Federation. The probe means boxing’s 2020 fate may not be resolved until the IOC session in June 2019.
Bach maintained that the IOC is «absolutely in line with (the JABF’s) request, yes, we want to have (the boxing competition) and this is why we will work for the athletes,» he said.
«We do not want athletes to suffer for the misbehavior of officials or people which they are not related (to), with misbehavior whom they have nothing to do (with),» said Bach referring to a raft of unresolved issues related to boxing’s governing body, including the alleged criminal links of its recently elected President Gafur Rahimov, whom U.S. authorities have accused of being involved in the international heroin trade.
Bach did reiterate that the IOC has no «personal issue» with Rahimov, rather it is his ability to carry out the tasks required as president of an international sporting federation that is at issue, including AIBA’s troubles in opening or maintaining bank accounts in Switzerland.
The ongoing concerns about the effect of Tokyo’s summer heat saw submissions that rugby games be moved away from noon start times, and also that mountain bike and BMX cycling races have their competition times shifted to cooler times of the day.
According to the official website of the Tokyo Olympic Games, the men’s and women’s mountain bike races are scheduled to run from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and BMX from 10 a.m. to around noon. Rugby matches are scheduled in two sessions each day the sport is running, with a break from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. most days.
«It is a work in progress because this does not only concern athletes, it is about spectators, it is about referees, it is about everyone,» said Bach.
The IOC leader added that a decision is likely to remain some way off, with organizers contemplating whether to make a call «some months before the Olympic Games, or years before the Olympic Games, or to wait until there is a reliable forecast for this period.»
«Again, it is a work in progress,» he admitted.
Bach said he was buoyed by his trip to Fukushima with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with the spirit of the locals, particularly in relation to the role that sport has played in recovery efforts, proving an inspiration and an indication that the region is ready to show that it has recovered from the 2011 earthquake and nuclear disasters.
As reported by Kyodo News on Tuesday, Bach reaffirmed his hope that he will be able to make a trip to Hiroshima during the 2020 Olympic torch relay.
On Saturday, he pointed to the Olympic torch as a symbol of peace, much like how Hiroshima has become a symbol and its people advocates for the anti-war movement.
«The people of Hiroshima have a great commitment to peace so I think such a visit could be a symbol of these joint efforts for peace, in this case, undertaken by the Olympic movement,» said Bach.
All — Kyodo News+