The rescheduled European Olympic qualifier will be rescheduled again as the Boxing Task Force announce it will not be held in London in April
THE European Olympic qualification event will be rescheduled once again. The event had to be cancelled after three days of competition last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The European Olympic qualifier had been set to restart where it left off from April 22-26 at the Copper Box Arena in London. Now however the Boxing Task Force that currently administers Olympic boxing has announced that it will not be held in London in April.
In a statement the Task Force said: “The Boxing Task Force (BTF), in a virtual meeting conducted [on January 28], decided that the European Qualifier for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Boxing tournament will no longer be taking place in London in April.
“The decision was taken in light of the current situation and increased travel restrictions to/from the UK and taking into consideration the feedback received from the European Boxing Federations and NOCs.
“The BTF is currently evaluating all possible options (including April in another location) and will provide an update regarding the European Qualifier on February 17 2021.
“The BTF would like to express its gratitude to the British Olympic Association, GB Boxing, UK Sport and all their stakeholders involved for their great commitment and efforts in supporting us during these extremely difficult and ever evolving times.”
Only two Olympic qualification events have been completed, the Asian/Oceania qualifier and African event. The Americas one must still be held, penciled in for May with a location still to be confirmed, and a World qualifier is also slated for June but similarly needs to be finalised.
It underscores the difficulty of staging the Olympic Games and its attendant qualification events in the midst of a global pandemic.
It introduces another element of uncertainty for the athletes who would have been competing in the European qualifier, although, as it was set to take place behind closed doors anyway, confirming the dates for the competition is more important than the venue. It’s to be hoped some certainty can settled on February 17.
Earlier this week the International Olympic Committee had been at pains to insist the Tokyo Games, postponed from last year, will indeed take place in 2021. IOC president Thomas Bach said, “We are fully concentrated on and committed to the successful and safe delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, starting on July 23 with the Olympic Games and August 24 with the Paralympic Games.”
“The organisation of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as such, is already an extremely complex challenge. But this complexity is multiplied when it comes to organising postponed Olympic Games for the first time ever, and this under the conditions of a pandemic. So, there is no blueprint for this, and we are learning every day,” he added. “We are not speculating on whether the Games are taking place. We are working on how the Games will take place.
“We have to put the COVID countermeasures together for every possible scenario. And in this, we are relying on the advice of all the different authorities. There’s the Japanese government, the health authorities, the World Health Organization; we are talking with the manufacturers of vaccines – with all the experts. From these consultations, we can conclude that it is too early to tell which of the many COVID countermeasures will finally be the appropriate ones when it comes to the time of the Games. We just have to ask for patience and understanding – from the athletes, from the National Olympic Committees, the International Federations, the Japanese people, the Organising Committee, everybody. We have to be patient and diligent in the same way.
“Soon we will be able to release the first version of the so-called ‘playbooks’ for the Games, which will explain the measures for the different stakeholder groups, to protect themselves and to protect others.”
These playbooks will be published in early February. Bach added, “In this we are gaining even more confidence from the effectiveness of the countermeasures which are being applied right now at sports events across the world. We have seen this during the winter season: more than 7,000 events have been organised by the International Federations, with 175,000 COVID tests, and only 0.18 per cent were positive. The competitions could be run, could be organised, and none of the competitions developed into a hotspot or anything like this. We also see many summer sports already back with competitions, with the same results, with the same care for the safety of everybody involved. And this is why we are so, so confident.”