October 27, 2005

Bob, Weave, Stick the IOC With the Blame

As I predicted, the IOC has rejected the addition of women's boxing for the 2008 summer Olympics. Boxing will remain the only sport on the summer programme that does not include women.

I have expressed my doubts a couple of times now about the sincerity of the AIBA proposal. They have not demonstrated any willingness to make sacrifices to the men's events, which will be necessary if women's events are added. On top of that, all signs suggest that the AIBA is run by a bunch of incompetents. I theorized before that the proposal to add women's boxing was largely for show, so that they could claim to be fighting for gender equity while putting the black hat on the IOC.

It looks like the strategy has worked, as the CNN.com article ran under the headline Olympic chiefs KO women's boxing. Expect the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth from the usual sources, decrying the Rich White Men who run the IOC.

In this case, I think that the criticism is unwarranted, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the criticism is misdirected. The truth is that women's boxing is not ready for the Olympics — the most recent World Championships, for example, very nearly didn't happen. And why is the AIBA holding the women's world championship as an event separate from the men's, anyway? Is that what they call "including" a women's discipline? I guess they have made it pretty clear which discipline is the undercard and which is the main event.

Let's remember that it is not the IOC's job to develop women's boxing as an international sport. Amateur female boxers should hold the AIBA responsible for this failure, in my opinion. I don't expect it to go that way, though.

The IOC did agree to some female-friendly changes to the events on the Olympic programme, expanding the number of women's teams in soccer, field hockey, and handball, and adding a women's steeplechase in athletics.

They also agreed to add an open water swimming race for men and women, while rejecting a request to add six events in the pool (men's and women's 50m butterfly, backstroke, and breaststroke). This is a bit off the original topic, but I think that's a sound decision. I like swimming and all, but I don't think we need another six instances of the same old thing done by the same old athletes. A 10 km open-water swim is, at least, something completely different.

No comments: