AIBA makes important rules changes
Following the adverse criticism that was levelled at the sport after some of the boxing matches at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the International Boxing Association (AIBA) has taken steps to protect the integrity of the sport and lessen future controversy.
At an extraordinary congress that was held in Montreux, Switzerland, on Tuesday, several rule changes were approved.
An initial step that was taken after the Olympics, which is still in place, was the abolishing of the five-star referee/judge positions, which was an innovation designed to provide special opportunities for outstanding officials. The AIBA was not satisfied that this served the purpose intended and decided not to continue with this category of officials. The three-star qualification will remain as the highest ranking for referees and judges.
Shortly after the Olympics, the AIBA grounded all the 36 referees/judges who participated in the Olympic Games. The decision was taken that they would all remain on hold, with regard to their participating in any competitions, and this would continue until a full investigation and assessment of what took place at the Olympics was completed.
CHANGES TO JUDGES
With regard to rule changes, there has been a change in the number of judges whose scorecards will be used to determine the winner of each bout in future. Previously, all five judges at ringside scored the bouts, but a computer randomly selected only three of the scorecards and used them to come up with the decision. This has been changed. What will now take place is that all five scorecards will be used to determine the winner of the bout. The scores of the judges and the performance of referees in each bout will, however, be carefully scrutinised by referee/judge evaluators after each contest and action will be taken against officials whose scorecards or performances in the ring do not measure up to the standards expected.
There has also been a change in the positioning of the judges at ringside. Previously, the five judges in a bout were placed on only three sides of the ring. This has been adjusted and they will now sit on all four sides of the ring in a bid to get more consistent decisions.
The selection of referees and judges for each bout has also been changed. The human element has been removed and all selections will now be done electronically. The draw to decide which boxers will meet at the various stages will also be done electronically. The AIBA has stated that these changes will, to a large extent, remove the human element and are designed to add more transparency to the selection of officials and the matching of boxers in competition.
The rules with regard to professional boxers have also been amended and national Federations will be given the authority to bring professional boxers into their fold. It has also been confirmed that professional boxers will be allowed to compete at the Olympic Games in the future.