IOC’s Boxing Task Force defends London event after Turkish criticism

The International Olympic Committee’s Boxing Task Force has dismissed claims from a Turkish boxing official that it facilitated the spread of coronavirus by allowing this month’s qualifying tournament in London to go ahead.

Turkish Boxing Federation president Eyup Gozgec has said that two of his country’s boxers and their head coach have tested positive for the virus since returning from the UK.

The qualifying tournament started on March 10 but was abandoned after three days, predominantly due to fears of creeping travel restrictions affecting boxers’ ability to return home.

Boxing Road to Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualifying Event – Day Three – Copper Box Arena
Boxing Road to Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualifying Event – Day Three – Copper Box Arena

The Boxing Task Force said in a statement: “Some news reports appeared to draw a connection between the affected participants and the Boxing Road to Tokyo European qualifier held in London.

“The London event was suspended 10 days ago, on 16 March 2020, and the BTF is not aware of any link between the competition and the infection.

“Many participants were in independently organised training camps in Italy, Great Britain and in their home countries before the competition started on 14 March 2020 and have returned home a while ago so it is not possible to know the source of infection.”

Caroline Dubois
Caroline Dubois

The Boxing Task Force was set up to run the Tokyo 2020 boxing tournament following the expulsion of the sport’s governing body, AIBA, due to a series of financial and governmental concerns.

In a letter quoted by Inside The Games, Gozgec, who is a member of AIBA’s executive committee, wrote: “Unfortunately, two of our athletes and our Turkish head coach have tested positive for the new type Covid-19 coronavirus after returning to Turkey from London.

“All of them are in treatment now and thankfully they are in good condition.

“This is the disastrous result of the irresponsibility of the IOC Task Force, this virus has been around since December 2019.

“Therefore, it is inevitable to ask why the European qualification event was not postponed before it even took place.”