Boxing and the gender equality conundrum
By Poonam Mehra
Guwahati, Nov 26 (PTI) Women's boxing "merits" expansion at the Olympic level but should that come at the expense of men's events?
The question seems to have no easy answers as one of the marquee Olympic sports grapples with the prospect of a revamped roster for the 2020 Games.
The IOC has mandated that the women's events be increased from three to five for the Games in Tokyo without allowing an increase in the overall participation or the number of medals on offer.
This means that the men's events, which were reduced from 13 to 10 in the 2012 Games, will now be further cut to eight as the IOC pushes for greater gender parity at the quadrennial showpiece. London 2012 was when women's boxing made its Olympic debut in three weight categories.
Boxing has been an Olympic sport since 1904 and was a male only event till the 2008 Beijing Games.
"There was a time when men's boxing had 13 weight categories, which dropped to 10 and they could now be dropping to eight in 2020. Women's boxing deserves the expansion. But at the same time men's boxing will continue to fight for its territory," said India's High Performance Director Santiago Nieva.
His response quite sums up the situation in international boxing where the general view is that while it's good to have more women at the Olympics but men shouldn't be too drastically affected.
"I don't understand why can't there be greater participation. It's great to have more women's events but let there be as many men, have more medals, have more boxers. That should be the aim in my opinion. Isn't that's what Olympic spirit is all about?" Indian boxing's national observer Akhil Kumar told PTI.
The men's categories to be dropped are yet to be finalised. The International Boxing Association's (AIBA) new President Franco Falcinelli is still trying to negotiate with the IOC to ensure that only one men's category is dropped.
"The IOC has kept a cap on the number of athletes that can participate in the Games that cannot be changed currently. So, I guess we have to adjust to the change, there is no choice," said Nieva.
But amid the talk of equality and ensuring that men and women have the same share of boxing medals by the 2024 Games, AIBA vice-President Edgar Tanner had a rather obvious question to ask.
"I don't know how you can get equal gold medals out of 13