Earlier this week, IOC President Thomas Bach warned that weightlifting could lose its place at the Paris 2024 Olympics if the IWF did not address governance concerns ©Getty Images

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has begun a rescue mission for the troubled sport by postponing its elections and committing to giving two athletes’ representatives a vote on the Executive Board.

With weightlifting’s place on the Olympic Games schedule under threat, the IWF has agreed to reverse the order of its two planned Congresses, and will now adopt a new Constitution before holding elections on a date to be arranged.

IOC Director General, Christophe de Kepper, wrote to every member federation of the IWF on Thursday (February 25) to list the IOC’s concerns.

He made it clear that weightlifting’s place in the Olympic Games after the rearranged Tokyo 2020 Games was under threat, a point also made by the IOC President Thomas Bach a day earlier.

The IOC has been unhappy with the IWF’s general governance and specifically with its failure to give athletes a meaningful voice, its continued refusal to accept independent advice, its weakening of anti-doping rules and its decision to hold elections under old rules.

It also complained of a failure to change its culture and leadership, and said there were too many existing Board members among the candidates for the elections.

The Board voted to entitle the chair and vice-chair of the IWF Athletes Commission to vote at Executive Board meetings.

Sarah Davies, chair of the Athletes Commission, and vice-chair Forrester Osei of Ghana will take the athletes’ votes.

Davies, who has complained in the past of being disrespected when sitting in on Board meetings - without a vote - told insidethegames:  "Today's meeting felt almost surreal after months of battles and fight for the athletes.

IWF Athletes Commission chair Sarah Davies said she came away from today's Executive Board meeting feeling positive ©Getty Images
IWF Athletes Commission chair Sarah Davies said she came away from today's Executive Board meeting feeling positive ©Getty Images

"To actually leave the meeting on a positive note, with a smile on my face and motivated to train, was a first since I became Chair of the Athletes Commission {six months ago}. 

"The Board seem to have finally woken up and listened to the IOC. 

"We made huge strides forward for the voices of the athletes not only by gaining two votes on the Executive Board but we were actually listened to and valued in the meeting today. 

"I hope that this positive movement forwards continues for the sake of our athletes and our sport."

If the elections had gone ahead as planned on March 26 and 27, they would have been held under the rules of the existing Constitution which, by the IWF’s own admission, needs replacing.

The proposed new Constitution was due to be sent out to member federations this weekend but there is likely to be a delay while new dates are arranged.

Mike Irani, the Interim President of the IWF, wrote to De Kepper after today’s Board meeting today to say: "The IWF hereby expresses its appreciation to the IOC for its guidance and advice and hereby affirms the IWF’s commitment to a new era of good governance and transparency."

He told De Kepper that the IWF Board had decided to postpone the Electoral Congress, originally scheduled for March 26 and 27 and Constitutional Congress, originally set for April 29 and 30, with new dates to be decided.

The sequence would be reversed in order to adopt a new Constitution first.