Fans who looked on aghast as Michael Conlan was somehow adjudged to have lost his bout against Vladimir Nikitin at Rio 2016 will be delighted that Tokyo 2020 is an AIBA-free zone, but Bernard Dunne has urged the fighters under his care to focus on the factors that they can control as they bid for Olympic glory.
The International Olympic Committee's Boxing Task Force is running the boxing competition in Tokyo, with the International Boxing Association stripped of the right to do so after a 2019 report highlighted issues in the association that could cause damage to the Olympic movement.
Dunne, who serves as Team Ireland's boxing performance director, has full confidence in the new regime but stressed the importance of athletes maintaining the correct focus.
"I have to say that the IOC and the Boxing Task Force have done a fantastic job up until this point," the former world champion said.
"The recent European qualification tournament that we were at, I have to say that the quality of refereeing and judging was fantastic.
"What referees and judges do is outside of our control. We've spoken about this internally in the group and we're very much focussed on performing and demonstrating on what we've been working on over the last four years."
Four Irish boxers on the seven-strong team are two fights away from medal positions after the draw was made in Tokyo this afternoon.
Kurt Walker will be the first Irish boxer in the ring in Tokyo, with the Lisburn fighter taking on Spaniard Jose Brotons in the last 32 on Saturday morning (4.03am Irish time).
Dubliner Emmett Brennan is up next, against Uzbek opponent Dilshod Uzmetov at light heavyweight.
Flyweight Brendan Irvine will make his opening bow as Sunday rolls into Monday, taking on Carlos Paalam at 0.03am on Monday morning.
Kurt Walker the first @IABABOXING to see action. 04:03 (Irish) Saturday.— Damien O'Meara (@damien_omeara) July 22, 2021
Emmett Brennan - 12:42 Sunday
Brendan Irvine - 00:03 Monday
Michaela Walsh - 06:27 Monday
Aidan Walsh - 03:30 Tuesday
Aoife O'Rourke - 10:18 Weds
Kellie Harrington - 03:00 Friday@RTEsport pic.twitter.com/IW1IMBqaP3
The remaining four Irish competitors find themselves landed in the last-16, three through byes.
The seeded pair of Kellie Harrington (number one seed at lightweight) and Michaela Walsh (number four seed at featherweight) were already destined to receive a bye through the last 16 before the draw was conducted.
Harrington will face the winner of Rebecca Nicoli and Esmerelda Falcon Reyes in the last 16 on Friday, 30 July, while Walsh has been handed a tough draw, likely facing up to Italian Irma Testa, her conqueror in the final round of European qualifying.
As one of Ireland's leading medal hopes, Harrington will attract plenty of the spotlight. Dunne isn't keen to dwell on her favourite tag, but believes she's more than equipped to deal with the expectations thrust upon her.
Dunne said: "The winner of Mexico v Italy steps up to face Kellie. We'll watch that contest, we'll review it and we have footage of both opponents that we'll be studying ourselves.
"Seeds mean nothing. We're at an Olympic Games and everybody has earned the right to be here.
"Kellie has dealt with pressure before, as have all our athletes. You go to an Olympic qualifier and you have one chance to get here and seven of them got through."
Clare MacNamara reports from the #Tokyo2020 boxing venue where Ireland's seven boxers will look to improve on what was a disappointing outcome for the sport at the Rio Games #TeamIreland #rtesport pic.twitter.com/JaHb40msRR— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) July 22, 2021
Joining them in receiving a bye to the last 16 is Walsh's brother Aidan, with the welterweight stepping into the ring on Tuesday.
"Aidan is in to the last 16 and he takes on the winner of Cameroon v Swaziland," Dunne said.
"He'd a fantastic European qualifier, he got himself a medal and he got himself an Olympic place. Now it's about building on that.
"His preparation has been fantastic and he's done everything that has been asked of him by the coaching team."
Middleweight Aoife O'Rourke is also two fights away from a medal as just 16 fighters line up in that weight division, although she's been landed with a difficult opening bout against Chinese 2nd seed Qian Li.
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