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Olympic boxing qualifiers in London to be suspended after tonight's action

The decision comes less than 24 hours after the IOC’s Boxing Task Force moved the competition behind closed doors.

The Copper Box Arena.
The Copper Box Arena.
Image: PA

Updated Mar 16th 2020, 6:50 PM

THE EUROPEAN LEG of Olympic boxing qualification in London will be suspended following this evening’s session due to fears regarding the coronavirus and the increase of travel restrictions across the continent, organisers have confirmed.

The IOC’s Boxing Task Force (BTF) — overseeing boxing for these Olympics in place of amateur boxing’s disgraced world governing body, AIBA — made the decision less than 24 hours after moving the tournament at the Copper Box Arena behind close doors.

May’s Americas qualifiers, and the World qualifiers pencilled in for Paris — the latter being the final chance of qualification for boxers from all continents — have also been postponed. The IOC and the BTF still aim to complete Olympic boxing qualification either later in May or in June.

Ireland’s Brendan Irvine and Kurt Walker will still have a chance to book their spots at Tokyo 2020 when they fight in respective last-16 ties at 18:30 and 19:45 this evening respectively, but their nine remaining team-mates will have to wait a number of weeks before continuing or launching their own qualification bids.

“Safeguarding the well-being of the athletes, officials and all other participants is a top priority for the BTF,” read an IOC statement.

“Since the preparation phase of the event, the BTF has been working in close cooperation with the Local Organising Committee (LOC) – the delivery body of the competition – as well as its stakeholders, its own medical experts and the national health authorities, to set up the necessary precautionary measures.

The BTF eventually took the decision to suspend the event today, amid increasing global travel restrictions and quarantine measures, in order to allow the participants from over 60 countries to adjust their travel plans and return home.

“The BTF will continue to evaluate the situation daily, aiming to complete the distribution of the remaining Tokyo 2020 boxing quota places in May and June. The BTF’s priority remains the qualification of athletes on the field of play, and it will inform all stakeholders as soon as more information is available.

“At the same time, the IOC is fully committed to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, as was recently outlined again in the following statement.

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“The BTF would like to thank the host nations, the organising committees and all the participants involved for their support and tremendous efforts in dealing with this extraordinary situation.”

The IOC was already due to meet national Olympic committees on Tuesday to discuss qualification procedures for the Tokyo Games.

In a statement of their own, the Olympic Federation of Ireland said: “The decision by the IOC Boxing Task Force to cancel the event in London, while very difficult for everyone, is being done for the right reasons – to protect the athletes from over 60 countries.

“The cancellation was decided in conjunction with the Local Organising Committee amid the increasing global travel restrictions and quarantine measures which are impacting on travel plans of athletes, teams and officials and their abilities to return home.

“This is incredibly disappointing for our boxers who were fit and ready for a good tournament, and on their return, together with the Irish Amateur Boxing Union and Sport Ireland Institute we will work closely to support them through these difficult times.”

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