After watching wrestling get ousted from the Olympics, the International Boxing Association is doing whatever it can to innovate its sport, including some substantial rule changes that happened over the weekend.
Most notably, boxers will fight without head gear for the first time since the 1980 Moscow Games, and will compete under the professional 10-point per round scoring system, instead of the controversial punch-count system.
“There’s no evidence protective gear shows a reduction in incidence of concussion,” Charles Butler, chairman of AIBA’s medical commission, said. “In 1982, when the American Medical Association moved to ban boxing, everybody panicked and put headgear on the boxers. But nobody ever looked to see what the headgear did.”
Headgear has been a staple of the last eight Summer Olympics, but many believe that it allows boxers to sustain more jarring head shots over an extended period, and limits the competitors’ peripheral vision.
As far as the punch-count scoring – implemented mostly because Roy Jones Jr. was robbed of a gold at the Seoul Olympics – it’s been similarly maligned for being unsafe and susceptible to failure.
It’s believe that Both moves, which fall more in line with how professional boxing operates, will encourage top amateurs to compete in the Olympics rather than sidestep the Games and to start their careers.
“It is AIBA’s duty to bring the sport of boxing to the pinnacle of the Olympic Movement,” AIBA president Wu Ching-Kuo said. “I am convinced that these changes will critically contribute to the development of our beloved sport,”
Australian golfer Marc Leishman will miss the Rio Olympics due to his wife’s health.
“Many of you may know that last April my children and I almost lost my wife, Audrey, to toxic shock syndrome,” Leishman said in a statement. “Since then Audrey has been prone to infection and is far removed from 100 percent recovery of her immune system.
“We have consulted with Audrey’s physician and due to her ongoing recovery from toxic shock and potential risks associated with the transmission of the Zika virus, it was a difficult yet easy decision not to participate.
“I missed playing in the 2015 Masters tournament to be at her side when she was originally stricken and I cannot risk placing her health in jeopardy.
“The Masters and the Olympics are the two biggest tournaments to which a golfer can be invited; however, my family will always come before golf.”
Leishman, 32 with one PGA Tour win, joined the projected Olympic field when countryman Adam Scott said last month that he would skip Rio.
World No. 1 Jason Day is assured one of two Olympic spots for Australian men when the 60-man field is determined based on July 11 world rankings.
With No. 7 Scott and No. 35 Leishman out, the next-best Aussie is No. 63 Marcus Fraser.
Three more major champions — Vijay Singh, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel — also said in April they would not compete in Rio.
Golf returns to the Olympics for the first time since 1904.
MORE: Australia Olympic legend blasts Adam Scott
Rory McIlroy believes golf may not remain in the Olympics after 2020 following a string of major champions announcing they will skip the sport’s return at the Rio Games.
“Because of how [Olympic golf is] being approached in golf circles … I’m not sure if we’re going to have another opportunity to win a gold medal after [Tokyo 2020],” McIlroy said ahead of the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday.
In 2009, the International Olympic Committee voted to re-add golf and rugby to the Olympic program for the 2016 Olympics, with a review in 2017 if they would remain for the 2020 Olympics.
In 2013, Tokyo was elected host city for the 2020 Olympics with a plan that includes golf.
Beyond 2020, golf does not yet have a place in the Olympics. Its chances for the 2024 Olympics could come into focus when that host city is chosen in September 2017.
McIlroy, ranked No. 3 in the world, has repeated he will play for Ireland in the first Olympic golf tournament since 1904 in Rio in August.
Fellow major champions Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Vijay Singh said last month they will not play in the Rio Olympics.
MORE: Golf Channel’s Olympic broadcast schedule