ATR First: Boxing Championships 'Not Right Environment' for IOC President

(ATR) Thomas Bach cancels trip to AIBA championships in order to avoid taking sides in federation leadership crisis.

(ATR) IOC says Thomas Bach cancelled trip to AIBA world championships in order to avoid showing support for either side in the federation leadership crisis.

"The circumstances which AIBA currently faces are not the right environment for a visit of the IOC President to this year’s championships," an IOC spokesperson tells Around the Rings in an exclusive statement.

"Such a visit could be interpreted by either side as a statement of support. The IOC does not want to allow even the perception of taking sides in this internal power struggle within AIBA, in particular during ongoing court cases."

Wu faces a vote of no confidence from AIBA’s 201 National Federations at an Extraordinary Congress on Nov. 12 in Dubai. Five members of AIBA’s executive committee formed an Interim Management Committee during a July 24 meeting in Moscow that is tasked with leading the federation until the Extraordinary Congress.

However, Wu has challenged the formation of the IMC in Swiss courts with a hearing held on Aug. 18. The judge requested more information before rendering a decision which is expected in early September.

The IOC president clearly wants to keep his hands clean of the mess unfolding at AIBA, particularly given Wu’s status as an IOC Executive Committee member. In lieu of attending the opening ceremony of the championships, Bach sent a letter welcoming the boxers to Hamburg, Germany at the start of the championships on Aug. 25.

Instead of traveling to Hamburg, Bach went to China to meet with new Olympic TOP sponsor Alibaba on Aug. 25. Bach spoke about esports inclusion to the Olympic program and Beijing 2022’s preparations for the Winter Olympics during his visit to China.

While Bach and Wu did not meet at the boxing world championships as planned, sources familiar with the AIBA situation suspect the two met in China during Bach’s visit. Wu left the world championships after the opening ceremony and flew to China to attend the Chinese National Games.

The IOC tells ATR that Bach left China on Aug. 28 but did not respond to questions regarding a potential meeting of Bach and Wu in China. The IOC chief returns to the Olympic capital of Lausanne on Aug. 29 and AIBA president Wu is expected to return to Hamburg by the end of the championships.

During his absence, Wu missed an opportunity to speak with AIBA’s members during an organized meeting of the National Federations participating in the tournament. The AIBA Executive Committee led by vice president Franco Falcinelli met leaders of the NFs on Aug. 27.

"This was a meeting that was intended to have EC members inform the National Federations about the current financial situation in AIBA. It was also an opportunity for National Federations to ask questions and express how they feel," Pat Fiacco, an EC member from Canada told Around the Rings.

While not a formal meeting of the EC, the 12 members present approved three documents requesting action from Wu, who was not in attendance.

Signed by each EC member at the meeting, one document requests the contracts and other information on the financial questions faced by the federation. This includes the $10 million loan by the Azerbaijan company Benkons, a $19 million investment by a Chinese firm FCIT and the sponsorship with Alisport, a division of Alibaba, announced earlier this year.

The Hamburg 2017 Boxing World Championships will conclude on Sep. 3 with Wu expected to be back in attendance.

Written by Kevin Nutley

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