IOC under fire after multiple fighters catch COVID-19 at Olympic boxing tournament

IOC boxing, COVID-19
Image via olympic.org (photographer not listed)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has come under fire after a pair of Turkish boxers and their coach tested positive for COVID-19 at an Olympic boxing qualifying tournament in London last week.

Eyup Gozgec, the president of the Turkish Boxing Federation, is disappointed with the IOC for allowing the boxers to compete at the Road To Tokyo event at London’s Copper Box Arena, asserting that the event should never have taken place during the current health crisis. Gozgec’s complains also apply to the British government.

“While the whole world was taking extreme measures to deal with the virus, I am baffled that an IOC taskforce and the British government allowed the tournament to start even though many of us had concerns and almost every other sport had shut down,” he told The Guardian of his gripes with the IOC. “It was irresponsible. And as a result, unfortunately three of our team have now tested positive.”

Gozgeg, who is also serves the vice-president of the European Boxing Confederation, plans to write a complaint to the IOC. He feels there were not adequate precautions in place either at the venue where the Olympic tournament took place, or at the hotel where the fighters stayed.

“Unfortunately, two of our athletes and our Turkish head coach have tested positive for the new type Covid-19 coronavirus after returning to Turkey from London,” he said. “All of them are in treatment now and thankfully they are in good condition. This is the disastrous result of the irresponsibility of the IOC taskforce.

“This virus has been around since December 2019. Therefore, it is inevitable to ask why the European qualification event was not postponed before it even took place? They did not consider anyone’s health, which led them to organise this horrible event.”

The Guardian also reached out to an IOC spokesperson, who declined to comment until more information is available.

“For understandable reasons we will wait to receive the details from those concerned before making an informed comment,” the spokesperson wrote.

The Olympic boxing qualifying tournament in question featured roughly 350 fighters from 40 countries.

The 2020 Olympics, of course, which were scheduled to begin in July in Tokyo, have been postponed to 2021 due to the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 3/26/2020.