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Professional boxers given historic opportunity to compete at Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Boxing comes into line with majority of sports; 26 places up for grabs at qualifying event in July
Professional boxers given historic opportunity to compete at Rio 2016 Olympic Games
As at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games (above), male boxers at Rio 2016 will compete without headguards, reducing the risk of concussion (Photo: Getty Images/Richard Heathcote)
The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has made a historic decision to allow professional boxers to compete in the Olympic Games, in time for them to participate at Rio 2016. 
At a meeting in Lausanne on Wednesday (1 June), 95 per cent of delegates approved the proposal to allow boxers from all organisations to participate in AIBA competitions. The organisation said its decision supports the IOC Agenda 2020, which seeks to ensure that the world’s best athletes are eligible to compete at the Olympic Games.
The decision brings boxing into line with the majority of sports, which allow professional athletes to compete at the Olympic Games.
“This is a momentous occasion for AIBA, for Olympic boxing, and for our sport as a whole, and represents another great leap forward in the evolution of boxing," AIBA president Dr Ching-Kuo Wu said after the vote. 
Following the decision, national boxing federations may now register professional boxers for the APB/WSB Olympic Qualification Tournament in Venezuela, which will take place from 3 to 8 July. The competition will offer 26 places for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, which begin on 5 August.
Wu told insidethegames.biz that "at this stage, it is difficult to say how many professionals will compete in Rio. But there will be some. They will all have to go through the qualification system.
"In my belief every athlete should have the right to go to the Olympic Games."

New rules for headgear and scoring

The potential presence of professional boxers will not be the only new development in Olympic boxing at Rio 2016. In March, the International Olympic Committee ratified an earlier decision by AIBA to remove headguards for male boxers at the Games. Boxers last fought without headguards at Moscow 1980. Authorities believe the decision will reduce the number of concussions suffered by athletes.
Male boxers at the Baku 2015 European Games did not use headguards (Photo: Getty Images/Tom Pennington)
At Rio 2016, AIBA is also replacing the computerised punch-count scoring system that was introduced at Barcelona 1992. As in professional bouts, the ringside judges in Rio will have to decide for themselves which boxer wins each round. Under the so-called "10-point must system," each judge must give the winner of the round 10 points. The loser will pick up nine points or less.
All Olympic boxing matches will take place at Riocentro Pavilion 6.
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