Women’s world championship set to be postponed until 2022 due to Covid-19 restrictions

The women’s world boxing championships, which were due to take place in Istanbul next month, are likely to be postponed until next spring due to concerns over Covid-19.

he President of AIBA, Umar Kremlyov, confirmed at a press conference in Belgrade that the organisation’s Board of Directors had considered the issue this week and had sought the views of member countries, including the hosts Turkey.

He pointed out that some countries had closed their borders due to Covid-19 and stressed that the safety of boxers and officials were their first priority. “A decision will be announced in the next few days,” he said.

Other sources suggest that the decision has already been taken to reschedule the event. It is now likely to take place in March 2022 in the Turkish city.

The Irish squad, including Olympic champion Kellie Harrington, has been training in Sheffield this week in preparation for the championship and were due to travel later this month to another training camp in Turkey.

Harrington hadn’t made a final decision on whether she would box at the event.

But if the championships are postponed for three months it will give her an opportunity to fine tune her preparations for a possible rematch against Brazilian Beatrix Ferreira. The pair clashed in a memorable Olympic lightweight final in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that sophisticated artificial intelligence aids were used to screen the judges, referees and technical officials working at the men’s world championships, which are ongoing in Belgrade.

As a result of the screening, four officials were not allowed work at the event.

Professor Richard McLaren, whose team conducted the investigation into corruption at the Rio Games, revealed how the new technology worked.

“This tool will be a big aid in putting their (AIBA’s) house in order. This technology holds a lot of promise,” he said. He denied that it was the equivalent of a lie detector test and suggested that it could be used in other sports.

According to the respected Canadian, his team deployed automated voice analytics to help screen referees, judges and officials working in Belgrade. It is already used in the military, diplomatic services and insurance industries.

“The investigators and analysts utilise the voice analytical tool to help screen officials. It measures the cognitive functions of the brain in the verbal responses and – given pertinent questions – finds whether that person is low risk, medium risk, or high risk in terms of being an official at the championships.”

Furthermore, a background search on all the officials was conducted before they travelled to Belgrade, deploying technology used by law enforcement agencies throughout the world. 

“This is a huge, historic step forward in eliminating bout manipulation,” he said.

American Roy Jones Jr, now an ambassador for AIBA, who was a victim of one of the most disgraceful decisions in the history of the Olympics in Seoul in 1988, said it “would have been a beautiful thing to have back then. But it’s better late than never.”

However, the President of AIBA demurred when asked whether boxers like Ireland’s Michael Conlan should be awarded an Olympic medal as a result of the McLaren Investigation finding that his bout in Rio was manipulated.

“If it was an AIBA championship, I would love to see it but it is up to the International Olympic Committee.”

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