January 10, 2020 / 10:51 AM / 18 days ago

AIBA's ability to pay off debts still unclear: IOC

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

FILE PHOTO: Nenad Lalovic, International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles listens to a question during a news conference in Buenos Aires September 6, 2013. REUTERS/Martin Acosta

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 organize 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.

AIBA did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

“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.

The IOC is racing to organize 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

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