On Sept. 9, 2021, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Executive Board announced that the 2021 World Weightlifting Championships (WWC) will take place on Dec. 7-17, 2021 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. A few days after the WWC wraps, the Electoral Congress will happen on Dec. 20-21, 2021, also in Tashkent.
The Electoral Congress, where the IWF is slated to vote for a new president, was postponed several times in order to address their need for Constitutional reform. The IWF announced the adoption of the new, independently-drafted Constitution on Aug. 29, 2021, which could help keep weightlifting in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games program. Weightlifting’s athlete quota for Paris was slashed by 76 spots — the most of any sport.
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According to the IWF’s press release, Tashkent is the choice location due to its organizers’ proven track record of being “very capable.” Tashkent hosted the 2021 IWF Junior World Weightlifting Championships held from May 21-31, 2021, as well as the 2021 Asian World Championships from April 16-25, 2021, and the 2021 Asian Weightlifting Federation (ASF) Congress.
Per Inside The Games, Chair of the Athletes Commission, Sarah Davies, wrote an open letter to weightlifting’s stakeholders and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach. In the letter, she says she is “optimistic that we have made sufficient progress for the IOC to allow weightlifting in the Paris Games” as the adopted Constitution gives athletes representation on the Executive Board. Schedule 10 on page 120 of the Constitution also states the Athlete Commission will “provide the voice and view of the athletes to each of the current standing IWF Committees and IWF Commissions.”
The Electoral Congress is also set to vote on a new IWF President as current interim President Dr. Michael Irani does not have the support of British Weight Lifting (BWL). Without the support of his home country’s federation, Irani is not eligible to seek candidacy for the presidency.
Since the resignation of former IWF President Dr. Tamas Aján — invoked by findings in the McLaren report that show financial corruption and doping coverups — three different people have been the acting or interim president.
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Former IWF Vice President Ursula Papandrea was named acting president when Aján delegated his responsibilities. Papandrea was ousted from that position in October 2020 by the IWF Executive Board.
She was then replaced by Thailand’s Intarat Yodbangtoey, deemed by the McLaren report as a “vote breaker” under Aján. Two days after Yodbangtoey’s appointment, Irani took over. Papandrea announced her bid to reclaim the IWF presidency in January 2021.
Olympians at Worlds
The 2021 WWC will take place just over four months following the conclusion of the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, where multiple new records were established by first-time Olympians and Games veterans alike.
Shi Zhiyong of China claimed gold with his world record 364-kilogram (802.5-pound) total. In the super heavyweight division, Lasha Talakhadze won his second Olympic gold medal by hitting world records in the snatch, 223 kilograms (491.6 pounds), clean & jerk, 265 kilograms (584.2 pounds), and total — 488 kilograms (1075.8 pounds).
Delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic have created an irregular situation where a Senior world event is held in the same calendar year as an Olympic Games. The close proximity of two highly competitive events may shake up the expected appearances of powerhouse athletes like Zhiyong and Talakhadze.
At the previous WWC in 2019, held in Pattaya, Thailand, Team China took home 53* medals — 29 of which were golds, and more than double that of the second-winningest country North Korea. It remains to be seen if any country can put a dent in China’s dominance on the medal table when the WWC begins on Dec. 7, 2021.
*Unlike the Olympic Games that only award medals for the highest total, the WWC awards medals for each lift and total.
Featured Image: @iwfnet on Instagram | photo via Stephen Galvan for the IWF