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Tokyo Olympics boxing qualifying in London goes behind closed doors

The Olympic boxing qualifying event runs until 24 March at London’s Copper Box

The Olympic boxing qualifying event in London will be moved behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The decision by IOC Boxing Task Force (BTF) was annnounced an hour after the head of European boxing told BBC Sport he was “very concerned” the event was taking place at the Copper Box Arena.

The event began on Saturday and runs until 24 March.

The BTF made the decision due to “concerns for public, athlete and volunteer welfare”.

The ruling will come into immediate effect on Monday.

On Sunday, it was announced 14 more people have died from the virus, bringing deaths in the UK to 35.

Franco Falcinelli, the European Boxing Confederation (EUBC) president, had told BBC Sport he feared the risk of a boxer getting the virus was “very high”.

“In my opinion it’s very strange that England – and the competition – is open at this hard time,” he said.

The event features around 350 male and female boxers from around 40 countries, and is being organised by an International Olympic Committee (IOC) taskforce following the suspension of international federation AIBA last year.

Falcinelli is also concerned that boxers and their teams may struggle to return home after the event because of flight restrictions.

He said: “This is a very interesting question, as many of them may have problems coming back because many national airlines are stopping. For example, there are no flights from England to Italy.”

Organisers of the event have said that all teams have been told to handwash regularly, and that if any of their group begins to exhibit cold or flu symptoms, they are advised to self-isolate, stay indoors, avoid contact with other people and contact the chief medical officer.

They added: “We have also introduced a series of additional measures including routine temperature testing as part of the daily medicals for competing boxers, which will provide us with additional data on the boxers and enable us to track and identity any changes.

When asked whether he believed the Tokyo Olympics would take place, Falcinelli said: “It depends on the level of spread of this Covid-19.

“Up to now in Japan there have been many cases, but [IOC President] Thomas Bach and also the local organisers reject the possibility to postpone or cancel.”

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