Organisers of a suspended Olympic boxing qualifying tournament in London hit back at accusations of irresponsibility on Thursday as the number of competitors and coaches testing positive for coronavirus grew to six.
The Croatian federation said three team members had contracted the disease, a day after Turkey reported positives for two boxers and a coach.
The event at the Copper Box, featuring hundreds of male and female fighters from Europe seeking places at the now-postponed Tokyo 2020 Games, was halted on March 16 after three days.
The International Olympic Committee’s Boxing Task Force (BTF), who organised the event after last year’s suspension of world boxing body AIBA, wished those concerned a speedy recovery but questioned the link.
“Some news reports appeared to draw a connection between the affected participants and the Boxing Road to Tokyo European qualifier held in London,” it said in a statement.
“The London event was suspended 10 days ago… and the BTF is not aware of any link between the competition and the infection.
“Many participants were in independently organised training camps in Italy, Great Britain and in their home countries before the competition started on 14 March 2020 and have returned home a while ago so it is not possible to know the source of infection.”
The Turkish Boxing Federation named one of its boxers as middleweight Serhat Guler, who had a bye before beating Israeli Mikhail Ostroumov on March 16.
Federation president Eyup Gozgec said the situation was “the disastrous result of the irresponsibility of the IOC task force”.
“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,” he wrote in a letter to board members of the European Boxing Confederation.