With the plethora of sports on offer, the Olympics is an occasion that rises like a gift stretching out from the calendar. Admittedly, we each have our favourites – those sports we stay up at all hours of the day simply to watch athletes compete in. For some, it’s the gymnastics, others the swimming, while for many track and field looms large as the star of the show. But for fans of boxing and weightlifting, the future of the sports could be under threat, with the risk of being removed from the 2028 LA Games programme after the IOC president, Thomas Bach, described them as the “two problem Childs of the Olympic movement.”
In recent years, weightlifting has come under fire after numerous concerns raised over doping allegations and governance issues. Meanwhile, Bach also expressed that boxing needed to make significant reforms following financial problems and the judging scandal at the 2016 Rio Games where it was found that judges gave each other signals at ringside to fix bouts, with evidence of corruption and bribery, alongside the manipulation of the sporting results themselves.
News of the potential changes to the LA Games programme comes after the modern pentathlon also faced scrutiny. After shocking scenes emerged from Tokyo 2020 where German coach Kim Raisner was sent home after punching a horse, many have voiced their support to see horse riding replaced with something more inclusive.
As for the 28 sports that have been included on the list for LA 2028, skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing have all been submitted for approval when the IOC meets in Beijing in February. The sports reflect a sustained effort to encourage youth participation and growth in sports that aren’t necessarily mainstream. “The proposed inclusion of these youth-focused sports is based on the significant contribution to the overall success of the Olympic Games of Tokyo 2020, their commitment to innovation and the partnership expressed by LA 28,” said Bach. “We are also recognising the deep roots each of these three sports have in LA and in California.”
As The Guardian reports, Bach also stressed that there would be a pathway for boxing’s governing body, Aiba, and the federations of weightlifting (IWF) and modern pentathlon (UIPM) to be part of the LA Games, should they make a series of reforms by 2023. “Aiba must demonstrate that it has successfully addressed the ongoing concerns around its governance, financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” Bach said.
“The IWF and its future leadership must demonstrate its transition towards compliance and effective change of culture. Furthermore, they must successfully address the historical incidence of doping in the sport and ensure the integrity, robustness and full independence of its anti-doping programme. Third, and this is very much different from weightlifting and boxing, the UIPM must finalise its proposal for the replacement of horse riding and for the overall competition performance.”
As Bach confirmed, “They must demonstrate a significant reduction in cost and complexity and improvements across the areas of safety, accessibility, universality appeal for youth and general public.”