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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

Rio Games judges barred; display of Rd scores in Tokyo

The decision was taken by the Boxing Task Force (BTF) constituted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to conduct the Tokyo Olympics qualifiers and the boxing competition at the 2020 Olympics.

other-sports Updated: Nov 22, 2019 10:55 IST
Navneet Singh
Navneet Singh
New Delhi
Tokyo Olympics.
Tokyo Olympics.(Getty Images)

The boxing officials and judges who were suspended following the controversial boxing competition at the 2016 Rio Olympics have been barred from officiating at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The decision was taken by the Boxing Task Force (BTF) constituted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to conduct the Tokyo Olympics qualifiers and the boxing competition at the 2020 Olympics.

The task force was formed in June after the IOC suspended the international boxing federation (AIBA) over issues related to governance, transparency and financial mismanagement.

In another important amendment, the task force has announced that judges’ scores will be publicly displayed at the end of each round. Both changes have been brought to bring transparency to the scoring.

“No referees or judges involved in the Olympic Games Rio 2016 will be eligible to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic boxing qualifiers or Olympic competition,” BTF said in a statement.

“The main objective is to ensure the completion of the mission of delivering events, while putting the boxers first, and with transparent and credible sporting results and fair play,” said Morinari Watanabe, who is heading the BTF.

Irish bantam weight boxer Michael Conlan cried foul at the Rio Olympics as he lost his quarterfinal bout to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin by unanimous decision. The London Olympics bronze medallist said he was cheated. There were many other bouts which came under the scanner and the International Boxing Association (AIBA), reeling under the allegations of manipulations of draws and rigged bouts, carried out an investigation suspending all the 36 judges and referees.

For the Olympic qualifiers, starting in February, as well as main boxing competition in Tokyo, the referee and judge selection process will be conducted under the ‘independent supervision of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and include extensive independent background checks of each individual.’

Rajkumar Sacheti, the executive director of the Boxing Federation of India, who is also a member of the BTF, said PWC has asked for data of officials from each country. He said names of around 10 Indian judges and referees will be sent.

“Only after screening, the official will be included in the pool. The task force will then randomly select officials for each event from the pool of eligible referees and judges,” said Sacheti.

World championship silver medallist Amit Panghal, who is a strong contender to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, welcomed the move. “There were some bouts that did not go our way in the Rio Olympics. I am hoping things will be a fair in 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” he said.

Panghal was delighted that scores will now be displayed after every round. “This is the best thing that could have happened. We will know our scores and accordingly work on our strategy. Now we don’t get to know what is happening in a bout,” he added.

“The fans will also connect more as they will know the scores,” he said.

India’s high performance director Santiago Nieva admitted the changes will be good for the fans but it will come with pros and cons.

“As a coach it gives me the opportunity to instruct the boxer on changing strategy when trailing or leading,” he said.

“They have done it for fair play but the task force could have waited till the Olympics. The change has come with just two months before an important competition and it will be challenging,” he said from Bellary where the national camp is in progress.

“We will go into the qualifiers without any knowledge how it (display of score) will work,” he added.

Olympian and 2006 Commonwealth Games champion in bantam weight, Akhil Kumar said fans will have much to cheer.

“Without scores on display the match is a dull affair. If you miss couple of seconds of a crucial bout it becomes difficult to get involved and enjoy the contest,” he said.

“It’s also a good opportunity for someone to make a comeback in the bout. It keeps fans and coaches on toes, but also gives the competitor to change his tactics to win the match,” he said.

He said the leading boxer might tend to play safe in the third and final round. “No one wants to give up the lead and try to stay away from the opponent’s reach. That’s one of the drawbacks,” he added.

However, BFI said will not have scores on display during the national selection trials slated for last week of December. “As of now we don’t have that technology. We will go by the old system where scores are announced at the end of the bout,” said Jay Kowli, general secretary of BFI.