On Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) issued a press release highlighting the events of their Electoral Congress meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. According to the organization’s interim president, Dr. Michael Irani, the IWF has made strides towards “meaningful reform and culture change” in an effort to secure weightlifting’s future in the Olympic Games:
“We were asked to deliver three things: new governance, clean competitions, and faces in our leadership team,” Irani said in the press release. “We’ve already delivered the first two. The third is certain to happen because of the provisions mandated by our new Constitution for more athletes and more women on the IWF Executive Board. And now we have a firm date.”
Weightlifting is not currently set to be included in the 2028 Olympics. The IWF Congress has selected their target date for the updated elections as June 25-26, 2022.
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The Congressional session, which was originally slated to contain the election of new officials and a new president — Irani is ineligible as he does not have support from his home country’s federation (British Weightlifting) — was comprised of 101 of the IWF’s Member Federations. Of those federations, 69 attended in-person and the remaining 32 participated online.
The IWF also provided a more specific outline for the general electoral process in 2022, highlighting several key dates preceding the elections themselves:
- January 30, 2022: IWF Extraordinary Congress
- March 2, 2022: Call for Candidatures
- April 30, 2022: Deadline for candidate vetting
The Extraordinary Congressional session on Jan. 30, 2022, will feature amendments to the IWF Constitution. The IWF intends on speeding up its electoral process and mentions specifically that “there are no proposals to weaken the strict eligibility criteria against which candidates will be vetted.”
Host Countries for 2023-2025 IWF Events
On Dec. 19, the IWF revealed on their website that the Executive Board agreed on which countries are slated to host some of the organization’s prominent competitions from 2023 through 2025:
- IWF Youth World Championships — Albania
- IWF Junior World Championships — Mexico
- IWF World Championships — Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
- IWF Youth World Championships — Peru
- IWF Junior World Championships — Spain
- IWF World Championships — Norway
Potential New Olympic Bodyweight Categories
According to a tweet by All Things Gym, during the Congress in Tashkent, the IWF Technical Committee also revealed its proposal for new bodyweight categories at the Olympic Games:
Editor’s Note: These categories have not been officially confirmed by the IWF.
Proposed Olympic Categories:
Men: 61, 73, 89, 102, 102+
Women: 49, 59, 71, 81, 81+
— All Things Gym (@allthingsgym) December 19, 2021
If accurate, these categorical changes represent a continuation of weightlifting‘s diminishing Olympic presence. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, weightlifters competed in eight Men’s events and seven Women’s. During the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the weight classes were equalized to seven for each sex.
With the sport under review by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the IWF appears to be taking action towards reclaiming its historical position as a Games event. The revised elections in 2022 represent an initiative by the organization to ensure its place in Paris 2024 and beyond.
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