PH boxing chief still hopeful of sport's inclusion in 2028 LA Olympics

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 14 2021 02:51 PM

New ABAP President Ed Picson. File photo.
New ABAP President Ed Picson. File photo.

MANILA, Philippines -- Reforms are already being done by boxing's international federation in order to comply with the requirements set forth by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), as the sport's place in the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles remains at risk.

This, according to Ed Picson, the newly-elected president of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP), who nonetheless stressed that it remains up to the IOC to determine if their international federation has done enough to comply.

"The IOC has laid down its conditions and requirements so that boxing can be welcomed back into the fold, and be given a clean bill of health," Picson explained during Tuesday's Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.

"Now, the ball is in the court of our international federation… Nasa sa kanila na 'yun, if they will do what it takes to get back into the good graces of the IOC," he added.

Last week, IOC president Thomas Bach labelled boxing and weightlifting as the organization's "problem children." The two sports, along with modern pentathlon, were not included in the initial program of the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Three sports that were introduced in Tokyo -- skateboarding, climbing, and surfing -- will remain on the program.

Bach gave three requirements for AIBA, the international boxing federation, to fulfill so that boxing will still be included in the upcoming Games. 

"AIBA must demonstrate that it has addressed concerns around its governance, its financial transparency and the integrity of its refereeing and judging," Bach said.

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) was also tasked to demonstrate an "effective change of culture" as well as address the "historical incidence of doping in the sport."

Picson told reporters that AIBA has already begun to make sweeping changes, starting with a change of acronyms. An extraordinary congress was held this weekend with 107 national federations in attendance. They approved a change in the federation's acronym from AIBA to IBA, reflecting its full name (International Boxing Association).

IBA, in a statement, also revealed that they have created a new Boxing Independent Integrity Unit and reduced its board of directors from 28 members to 18, with candidates for election subject to "extensive eligibility checks which will be conducted independently."

The federation "has also begun work towards defining weight categories and developing an Olympic Qualification System, subject to IOC approval, for Paris 2024."

Picson is hopeful that these changes will convince the IOC to retain boxing as an Olympic sport.

"There are certain standards that are being asked for by the IOC, that the international federation needs to address. Ngayon, that has been the case for the past year. Pabalik-balik lang sila eh," he said.

"Sinasabi ng AIBA, 'okay na, ginawa na namin.' Then IOC says, 'Hindi, that's not what we wanted.' So now, it is really up to the international federation to convince the IOC that No. 1, they are sincere in complying with the conditions being set. No. 2, that the reforms are indeed what the IOC has been looking for," he added.

"How to gauge kung sapat na o hindi, that's up to the IOC. Apparently, ang IOC ang magsasabi kung satisfied na sila or hindi."

The removal of boxing and weightlifting to the Olympic program will be a massive blow to the Philippines.

In the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, three Filipino boxers brought home medals: a bronze from Eumir Marcial and silvers from Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam. Celebrated weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz also won the country's first-ever Olympic gold.