Weightlifting, boxing officials react with caution to “inevitable” reduction in quotas for 2024 Olympics
The Indian weightlifting and boxing fraternity reacted with dismay over the loss of overall quota places for their sports in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
In what was an inevitable outcome of re-structuring by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to make the Olympics more manageable, weightlifting will see 76 fewer participants while boxing’s strength has been reduced by 34 athletes.
The IOC Executive Board, in the last meeting of the year on Monday, decided to cap the number of overall competitors at 10,500 for Paris. Some of the reductions are to facilitate gender equality; events for men have been replaced by women’s or mixed team events. Four new sports– skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing and breaking–got the final nod.
Weightlifting was the biggest loser as it had four events removed from the roster, their total number of quota places reduced from 196 at Tokyo to 120 at Paris. Considering that the sport had 260 participants at the 2016 Rio Olympics, it’s a steep fall for a sport already struggling to stay afloat, bogged down by allegations of wide-spread doping and mis-governance. Weightlifting at Paris will see five events each for men and women.
Sahadev Yadav, secretary general, Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF), said it may not impact India much as very few lifters from the country manage to qualify for the Olympics.
“It is good that the decision has been taken well in advance as it gives our lifters time to move up or down the weight category in case they are affected,” he said. “Reducing the number of competitors is the current trend and weightlifting falls prey to that as was seen at the Commonwealth Games where a number of weight categories have been reduced recently.
“Reduction in overall participants is disappointing, loss of one category for men is disappointing but addition of one category in women’s section is a positive sign,” said Jay Kowli, secretary general, Boxing Federation of India (BFI). “It’s not all bad for boxing. It’s good for India because we are good in women’s boxing and have won World Championships in four categories.”
The IOC had communicated to the international federations the necessity of reducing the cost and complexity of hosting the Olympic Games in June this year.
“I was expecting the reduction in number of quotas as I was part of the AIBA Athletics Commission that discussed this issue some time back. There is no other option but to accept the change and adapt to it,” Kowli said.
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