With the International Olympic Committee deciding to scrap the Olympic world qualifiers for boxing because of the challenges posed by the global Covid-19 restrictions, India is unlikely to add to the unprecedented nine who have made the cut for the Tokyo Games in July-August, reported PTI.
The final global boxing qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics is being scrapped, the Japan Boxing Federation said Tuesday, with places at this summer’s pandemic-delayed Games likely to be determined by rankings.
The qualifier was due to take place in Paris in June, but coronavirus travel restrictions and the rescheduling of the final European qualifier from April to June have forced organisers to pull the plug, AFP reported.
Boxing qualification events for the Games are being organised by a special taskforce formed after the IOC stripped the International Boxing Association of its right to run the sport at the Olympics. Qualification from the final world event is now likely to be decided by rankings created by the task force, depriving some boxers of their chance to fight for a place at the postponed 2020 Games.
“The 53 quota places (32 men and 21 women) planned to be allocated at the final World Olympic Qualifier will now be allocated equally across the four regions (Africa, Americas, Asia/Oceania and Europe) and all the weight categories,” the IOC’s Boxing Task Force stated.
From India, Amit Panghal (52kg), Manish Kaushik (63kg), Vikas Krishan (69kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg), Satish Kumar (+91kg), MC Mary Kom (51kg), Simranjit Kaur (60kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Pooja Rani (75kg) have qualified for the Games.
They made the cut at last year’s Asian Qualifiers in Jordan after which sports almost came to a standstill because of the pandemic.
In the current rankings, those who have qualified are the only ones with good ranking positions – Amit being best-placed among them at the top of his weight category standings.
The remaining categories in which Olympic slots are still up for grabs in the Indian context are men’s 57kg, 81kg and 91kg and women’s 57kg. None of these categories feature Indians in the higher positions, according to PTI.
Indian boxing’s High Performance Director Santiago Nieva expects some more qualifications.
“Obviously, there is disappointment but we are still hopeful. We will wait for what the IOC comes up with. I am really glad that we had a good Asian qualifier, it is a body blow for those who didn’t,” he told PTI.
But according to ESPN India, the chances of India adding to their nine quota places is over. The report added that the move will be a blow for the likes of Gaurav Solanki and Sonia Chahal.
The IOC said performances of the past four years will be taken into account while deciding the final rankings.
“This ensures a new reallocation pathway, which is based on international on-field results recorded over the past four years (2017-2021), including but not limited to the BTF Olympic Qualification Events,” the IOC said of the new qualifying procedure.
Mary Kom welcomed the IOC’s move to cancel the final qualifying event even though it is a setback for those eyeing vacant slots.
“While I feel sorry for the athletes not getting a chance to compete in a Final World qualifier, I 100% support the BTF’s solution to rearrange the qualification pathway to Tokyo 2020 in the best interests of all athletes,” she said in a statement issued by the IOC.
The IOC has taken over the conduct of boxing in the Tokyo Olympics after suspending the International Boxing Association, citing administrative mismanagement.
Only the African and Asian qualifiers of boxing have been completed so far and the tournaments for Europe and Americas will be held later this year.
The European tournament, which was earlier postponed to April this year, has now been rescheduled for June.
Japan Boxing Federation spokeswoman Mayumi Imaeda told AFP that the body was informed of the move on Tuesday.
“Athletes from some countries can travel to Paris but not from others, so it’s unfair,” she said.
“The athletes have to come first, and they have to be safe and secure. It also has to be open and honest. The athletes have to be treated equally.”
Qualification for the Games was supposed to be split between four continents, with a further final global qualifier taking place in Paris in June.
The International Olympic Committee appointed Morinari Watanabe, an IOC member from Japan and president of the International Gymnastic Federation, to run the taskforce to organise qualification and the event itself at the Games.
(With AFP and PTI inputs)