Amateur boxing officials have accepted defeat in their bid to increase the number of women's weight categories for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. The world governing body AIBA had hoped to double the number of gold medals available for female boxers after the great success of the discipline's debut in London last summer, where Ireland's Katie Taylor was among the gold medallists.
But AIBA has been forced to admit defeat in its quest after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made it clear additional medal events would no longer be considered for the Rio programme. In a statement, an AIBA spokesman said: "The International Boxing Association (AIBA) take note and respect this decision but hope that more opportunities will be opened to women boxers at the 2020 Olympic Games. "
The news will come as a major setback for supporters of women's boxing, who were confident the medals quota would be increased after the overwhelmingly positive feedback from 2012. The women's boxing competition took place in front of packed crowds at London's ExCeL Arena and the quarter-final bout between Taylor and Natasha Jonas generated one of the loudest atmospheres of the Games.
IOC president Jacques Rogge witnessed Nicola Adams make history by becoming the first Olympic women's boxing champion and told reporters afterwards: "I think we have been vindicated that it was a good decision — and it's only the beginning."
The news means the three existing women’s boxing weight categories — flyweight, lightweight and middleweight — will be retained for Rio. AIBA has confirmed it is not practical to further decrease the number of men’s weight categories in order to accommodate more women’s classes. The men’s featherweight class was axed in order to facilitate the introduction of women’s boxing to the programme in 2012.
The decision not to increase the number of participants or medals for the Rio programme — beyond the already-ratified addition of golf and rugby sevens — was taken at a meeting of the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board in Lausanne this month.
An IOC statement read: “The EB discussed the topic of possible modifications to disciplines, events, quotas and competition formats at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and reiterated that any request from International Federations that would result in a higher number of athletes or increased number of medals, thereby adding to the cost and complexity of the Games, would not be considered.”
The news would also appear to end the hopes of a number of other sports, with cycling officials hoping to add extra BMX events, and swimming and sailing also seeking to expand their programmes.