TOKYO, July 24 (Xinhua) -- The boxing competition at the Tokyo Olympics started on Saturday in Kugugikan Arena as the sport of amateur athletes is fighting for its future at the Games.
Among the six boxers representing China in Tokyo 2020, none of them showed up to the ring on Saturday. However, Zhang Guo from China's Hebei Province served as referee on the opening day.
From the 27 preliminary bouts of the men's 57kg, 69kg, 91kg, +91kg, and women's 57kg and 69kg categories, there were no knockout wins, with most of them decided by points.
In the women's 69kg preliminaries, Thailand's 19-year-old Baison Manikon defeated Saadat Dalgatova of the Russian Olympic Committee 4-1, and will face China's Gu Hong next Tuesday.
Due to the controversial rulings during the Rio Olympics which has affected the credibility and integrity of the sport, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) warned that boxing could be kicked out of Tokyo 2020. In June 2019, the IOC stripped its Olympic status from the troubled sport's governing body, the International Boxing Association (AIBA) and decided to hold the boxing tournament at Tokyo 2020 under the governance of the IOC Boxing Task Force.
In a press conference held one day before the kick-off of Tokyo 2020 boxing competition, Morinari Watanabe, chair of the IOC Boxing Task Force, said that boxing is on the right track as many transparent protocols have been put in place, including showing judge's scores after each round. He hopes that the boxers, not referees and judges, will be the focus in the weeks to come.
When asked if the future of boxing at the Olympic Games depends on the next 10 days, IOC sports director Kit McConnell said: "The next two weeks are about what happens here, it's about the boxers. The wider question of the future, we will look at after the Games."
"When I go to the referees and judges meeting I will say to the referees and judges that for the future of boxing, if they do one injustice, it is dark," Watanabe said, "If they do it the right way, then for the future of boxing, I will support them."
"All sports should be fair, that is important," Watanabe added.
The Tokyo 2020 boxing tournament sees 289 boxers set to compete in 13 categories from July 24 through August 8.