Up to seven individuals, including two Turkish boxers and one coach, have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus following a Road To Tokyo Olympic qualifying event in London last week, reports The Guardian. In addition to Turkey, one athlete and two coaches from the Croatian Boxing Federation are also said to have contracted the disease, reports the BBC.
The European Qualifier was held even as other sporting events around the world were postponed or canceled. On March 24th the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games would be postponed until sometime in 2021.
The event was administered by the IOC who in 2019 took control of boxing from AIBA, boxing’s international governing body, following criminal inquiries of the organization’s leader, Gafur Rakhimov.
Eyup Gozgec, President of the Turkish Boxing Federation, claims the event never should have taken place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While the whole world was taking extreme measures to deal with the virus, I am baffled that an IOC taskforce and the British government allowed the tournament to start even though many of us had concerns and almost every other sport had shut down,” said Gozgec. “It was irresponsible. And as a result, unfortunately three of our team have now tested positive.”
The tournament in London featured around 350 boxers from 40 countries. Though it was originally delayed three days due to concerns that the Coronavirus would impact athletes’ travel to London, the President of the European Boxing Confederation Franco Falcinelli stated that the risk of an athlete contracting the Coronavirus was “very high.”
Gozgec stated that he would write the IOC to make a complaint about the event, which he claims did not take enough medical precautions for those entering the event itself or the hotel where the athletes stayed.
“Unfortunately, two of our athletes and our Turkish head coach have tested positive for the new type Covid-19 coronavirus after returning to Turkey from London,” writes Gozgec. “All of them are in treatment now and thankfully they are in good condition. This is the disastrous result of the irresponsibility of the IOC taskforce.”
Gozgec conveys further frustrations with the IOC’s latency to postpone the event given the length of time the novel Coronavirus had been known before the London event was scheduled to begin.
“This virus has been around since December 2019. Therefore, it is inevitable to ask why the European qualification event was not postponed before it even took place? They did not consider anyone’s health, which led them to organise this horrible event.”
A member of the event’s Organizing Committee told The Guardian that “Extensive measures were put in place to protect the health and welfare of participants during the competition,” and that throughout the competition “there were no recorded instances of teams contacting the medical team to report symptoms.”
Even if the Coronavirus were contracted during the event, symptoms could take days or weeks to manifest, meaning participants could feel normal during the competition and then realize after it was over that they were ill.