On Dec. 7, 2020, The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced changes to the athlete quota for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. The number of athletes will be reduced from the 11,092 allotted to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games to 10,500 at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Of the 28 sports that received a reduction in athlete quotas, weightlifting took the biggest hit, only receiving 120 spots — which is a loss of 76 spots compared to the 196 available for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Since the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, which was allotted an athlete quota of 260, weightlifting’s athlete quota has been reduced by 46 percent. Additionally, there will only be five weightlifting categories given to both the men’s and women’s divisions.
In the IOC’s statement, they said, “The place of weightlifting on the programme of the Olympic Games Paris 2024 continues to be subject to ongoing review by the IOC.”
The backlash by leaders of multiple weightlifting federations was swift, specifically from the CEO of British Weight Lifting Ashley Metcalfe and USA Weightlifting (USAW) CEO Phil Andrews.
In respective Instagram posts, both Metcalfe and Andrews voiced their disapproval of the current International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Executive Board’s handling of governance reform in the eyes of the IOC. Metcalfe went as far as to call for the IWF Executive Board to “step down with immediate effect and allow a new group of ethically eligible individuals the chance to rebuild our tarnished reputation before it is too late.” Check out Metcalfe’s Instagram post below:
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[Related: Phil Andrews: What’s Needed For International Weightlifting Reform]
“The IOC has sent a further very clear message that it does not trust the current Executive Board to implement the changes it has demanded, and again, it is the athletes who will suffer the most,” Metcalfe continues. “When will the IWF Executive Board listen and make the fundamental changes needed?”
The IWF has been under fire as of late. Here’s a quick recap: In June of 2020, the McLaren Report — which was conducted by Professor Richard H. McLaren — found that then-President of the IWF Tamas Aján was involved in financial corruption and coordinated election fraud. Ursula Papandrea, then Vice President of the IWF, was appointed acting President. The IWF Executive Board then removed Papandrea and replaced her with Intarat Yodbangtoey of Thailand. Yodbangtoey stepped down less than a week later, and Chairman of the IWF Medical Committee and Executive Board Member Dr. Michael Irani took over.
There was community backlash over these sudden leadership changes. Sarah Davies, Chair of the IWF Athletes Commission, started a petition to push for a vote of no confidence of the IWF Executive Board, stating that the “IWF Executive Board have made decisions which jeopardize our sport.”
In an effort to establish governance and reform in the eyes of the IOC, the IWF’s latest move was the creation of the Independent Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (IDEC).
In an interview with BarBend, Phil Andrews has previously said that he believes the continuation of weightlifting as a program at the Olympic Games is not secure if there is not sufficient constitutional reform in IWF governance. You can read his latest Instagram post on the matter below.
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Andrews goes further in his most recent statement by suggesting that the IWF Executive Board have made decisions for their own interests above those of the athletes: “If the International Weightlifting Federation leadership wants to prevent this death by a thousand cuts, it must change and put the clean athlete — and not themselves — first.”
Additionally, in the caption of his post, Andrews writes: “It’s simply time for our sport to wake up.”
Featured image: MH STOCK/Shutterstock