While France and a large part of Europe cowered and put in particular their sporting competitions to a halt, the English welcomed, from Saturday March 14, the gratin of European boxing, invited to contest the tournament of Olympic qualification (TQO), in London.
After two days of competition in the presence of the public, this TQO was first announced behind closed doors before being finally suspended on the third day, Monday, March 16. The National Technical Director of the French Boxing Federation, Patrick Wincke, said that he was surprised that “The competition does not take place from the start behind closed doors. “
Were you surprised that this TQO was maintained before, finally, deciding to stop it in the middle?
We were surprised that there were no measures taken before, notably to limit public access. It is sure that after, given the evolution of the context, it became complicated to maintain it, even if once it had started, you would have thought that it would go to its end.
There were several stages, including the announcement of a closed session before the final suspension. was it disturbing?
At the start, I understood that the tournament would be entirely behind closed doors but that was not the case. The English organizers had not taken any special precautions, everyone could come and go without restrictions from Saturday, the day of the draws and the first fights.
Then it was decided to go in camera on Monday before the IOC Boxing Working Group, which manages qualifications and the Olympic tournament, makes the final decision.
It is not especially because of the health situation in England but above all for fear that the closing of the borders everywhere would make it difficult for the athletes to return home in good conditions.
Was it not possible to request the postponement with the help of other national federations?
You know, we trust the organization. And the IOC task force does the same: when it delegates the organization to a country, it is necessary to trust all the people there. We were immersed in the competition and from the moment everything was going normally … If there had been one or two positive cases, it would have been different.
Were your boxers worried?
Not more than that at first … They were already there for a few days and therefore cut off from what was happening in France. The women had left for a week in Sheffield, the men had arrived three days before the opening. They were in their bubble and were rather surprised by the situation in France.
In London, the look was not the same as here. When the news started to come in, when they saw that the British started to change their point of view, they asked questions of the French team doctor. Before that, we had decided to repatriate the boxers as they were eliminated.
Have you given instructions for their daily return?
Our athletes returned by train this morning. We are in touch with the Ministry of Sports regularly and for our part, we have transmitted the precautionary instructions that we are able to give. We will have to organize ourselves because we must also continue to train and that will be problematic.
Now the schedule will be difficult to keep. France has already postponed the global TQO it was to host in May …
The TQO on the American continent was first canceled and this at the same time shifts ours. There must be a month between the end of the continental TQO and the global TQO. We were already in this logic of shifting it.
If the date of the Games does not change, the calendar constraint will be this: our world TQO will have to take place before June 24, and one month before, the European and American TQO will have to be finished.