AIBA reforms push to secure boxing’s Olympic future: polls in 2022, liaison officer to work with IOC

Desperate to save boxing’s future as an Olympic sport, the suspended International Boxing Association (AIBA) has accepted crucial governance reforms suggested by an independent group, including holding elections by June next year, elevating the Secretary General’s role and appointing a liaison officer to handle its troubled equation with the IOC.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which suspended AIBA in 2019 and conducted the Tokyo Olympics boxing event through a task force, has reiterated “that serious concerns about AIBA’s governance, finances and refereeing and judging remain” and the future of boxing in the 2024 Paris Games is not secure.

The AIBA has responded by stating that it would do all that the IOC demands of it.

“…the Board of Directors is recommending to the Congress that elections shall be conducted no later than 30 June 2022,” the AIBA stated.

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“As an option, these elections may take place during the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in Istanbul, that were rescheduled to May 2022, however, the exact date to be determined by the Board on 31 December 2021 at the latest,” it added.

The decision to implement the reforms came ahead of the AIBA Extraordinary Congress on December 12 at a meeting of its Board of Directors.

The Board unanimously approved the recommendations and constitutional amendments in a report by the independent Governance Reform Group (GRG), led by Professor Ulrich Haas.

“Throughout the last year, AIBA has made continued progress in terms of sporting and financial integrity as well as good governance. Professor Haas and his team of independent legal experts have pointed us in the right direction so that we can achieve a level of governance that is best practice for international federations,” said AIBA President Umar Kremlev.

“I also urge all AIBA Member Federations to study the recommended changes and make a decision with the best interests of the future for our sport and our athletes in mind. Boxing should always come first,” he added.

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The enhancement of the Secretary General’s role would include assigning the responsible person the tasks of a CEO.

“…a person who not only administrates but leads and manages AIBA’s affairs,” and to be overseen by the President.

“…the Secretary-General should be, in principle, the sole legal representative of AIBA,” the recommendation stated.

Among other proposed reforms, the independent GRG has recommended reducing the number of AIBA Board of Directors, and the world body has responded by agreeing to limit the size of the Board to 18.

Comprehensive eligibility checks will be in place to “ensure the best possible leadership team.” The developments are in addition to the establishment of an independent Boxing Integrity Unit, which will be empowered to address competition manipulation, abuse, harassment, eligibility checks of election candidates and other issues.

The GRG also proposed establishing a new interdisciplinary Strategy Committee to review AIBA’s long-term strategy, develop mid-term and short-term goals.

“The proposed constitutional amendments aim to significantly improve AIBA’s governance with focus on integrity, democracy, checks and balances,” said Professor Haas.

“While they are yet to be approved by the Congress, this decision by the AIBA Board of Directors to adopt the measures proposed by our group can certainly serve as a basis for real and positive change,” he added.

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