January 10, 2020 / 12:28 PM / 3 months ago

Boxing federation's ability to pay off debts still unclear - IOC

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Friday that the International Boxing Association’s (AIBA) ability to pay off its multi-million dollar debt was still unclear, reducing the chances of a swift end to the federation’s Olympic suspension.

The IOC suspended AIBA over issues surrounding its finances and governance in June 2019, officially taking over the boxing competition and qualification for the Tokyo 2020 summer Olympics.

The boxing body has been in turmoil for several years over its finances and governance, with the federation at least $16 million in debt. It was also split internally by an ongoing bitter battle over the presidency.

“We have been informed of AIBA’s willingness to organise new competitions in order to generate revenues,” IOC member Nenad Lalovic, who heads a task force to monitor changes to the boxing federation, told the IOC session.

“We do not know if there are possibilities for clearing AIBA’s debts and we have no knowledge of any financial plan,” said the Serbian, who also heads the wrestling federation.

The IOC has demanded changes to AIBA’s statutes, new leadership and a financial cleanup of the federation before it will lift its suspension.

“We are still awaiting information on which guiding principle the new statutes (of AIBA) will be based upon and how the need for a new leadership team will be taken into account to support the new culture,” Lalovic said.

He had said in June that AIBA’s debts could rise as high as $29 million.

“As you know, we are dealing with financial problems created by the previous leadership,” AIBA said in an emailed statement to Reuters. “Time is needed to put in place adequate solutions, we are actively working on it.

“We also are progressing well with the debtors. (A) proposal to resolve that issue would be presented at the next Executive Committee meeting in February and would have to be ratified by the Executive Committee members.

“The Reform Commission is continuing the work on statutes changes and other aspects of the organisation are also under review for the betterment of the sport and will be part of the agenda of the next EC meeting,” AIBA said.

The IOC is racing to organise a series of continental boxing qualifiers this year while also preparing the tournament in Tokyo. It is also going through the process of selecting judges and referees following background checks.

AIBA has essentially depended for decades on Olympic revenues to survive between Games and has had to let staff go in recent months as a result of its Olympic exclusion.

The IOC will review AIBA’s suspension after Tokyo and will make a decision based on developments and changes to the boxing body’s governance.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Toby Davis and Ken Ferris

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