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Olympic boxing qualifiers, complete with Italian team, due to take place in London as scheduled

The IOC says its Boxing Task Force will continue to consult with its medical professionals and will adhere to any advice from relevant national health institutions.

Up to 350 boxers from somewhere in the region of 50 European nations will bid for their place at Tokyo 2020, beginning this Saturday.
Up to 350 boxers from somewhere in the region of 50 European nations will bid for their place at Tokyo 2020, beginning this Saturday.
Image: Cathal Noonan

WHILE THE GLOBAL sporting calendar continues to suffer blows at the hands of the COVID-19 virus, the European leg of Olympic boxing qualification is still on course to take place in London as scheduled from this Saturday, 14 March, until the following Tuesday, 24 March.

Up to 350 boxers from close to 50 European nations, including a 13-strong Irish contingent, are due to compete in the English capital where 77 spots at Tokyo 2020 will be up for grabs (50 men in eight weight categories; 27 women across five).

A full Italian complement of 13 will be among those in action at the Copper Box Arena. Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte on Monday took the unprecedented measure of putting the nation on lockdown in a bid to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, banning unnecessary travel within, to, and from Italy. However, the Italian boxing team along with their training and support staff made their way to London last Wednesday, long in advance of these restrictions. The Italian Boxing Federation had scheduled a 10-day training camp in Stratford, minutes from the Copper Box, as part of their preparation for the tournament.

As things stand, ticket-holding fans will still be permitted entry to the arena across the 10 days of competition.

However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has told The42 that their Boxing Task Force — who are overseeing boxing for this Olympiad in place of the disgraced and recognition-stripped AIBA — are preparing for all scenarios, including government-issued directives that would cause plans to change before or during the tournament.

“The IOC Boxing Task Force (BTF) and the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) are continuing the preparations for the Boxing Road to Tokyo European qualifier in London (GBR) as scheduled,” said the IOC in a statement.

Both the BTF and the LOC are continuously monitoring the situation through their medical experts, and will follow the guidance of national health institutions before and during the event. If the schedule of the event should change, the BTF will readily inform the teams, officials and the media.

From a medical perspective, the IOC’s official line to athletes in light of the global COVID-19 outbreak is one consisting of reassurance.

The organisation’s Medical and Scientific Director, Dr Richard Budgett, an Olympic Gold medallist at Los Angeles 1984, has described the risk to an aspiring Olympian’s personal health as “extremely small” provided they comply with hygiene guidelines, adding: “The chances of catching a cold or getting the flu are much higher. Most athletes from affected countries have been kept in training camps or are competing and travelling abroad, so are at no higher risk of infection.”

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Athletes have been advised to consult with the websites of both the World Health Organisation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when seeking further information and/or advice in relation to avoiding the virus.

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