Britain's Joe Joyce has backed plans to scrap headguards for Rio 2016 ©Getty Images

A decision to allow male boxers to compete without headguards at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro for the first time in 36 years has been hailed as "great achievement" by International Boxing Association President C K Wu.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board, currently meeting here, yesterday endorsed a decision originally taken by AIBA following London 2012 to unanimously end the use of headguards in all of their elite men's competitions.

Headguards have been worn at every Olympic Games since Los Angeles 1984 but were scrapped for the 2013 World Championships in Almaty.

“We are profoundly pleased that there will be no headguard for male boxers in Rio," Wu, a member of the IOC's Executive Board, said today. 

"It is something that has been expected by our boxers and by the boxing fans the world over.

"Since our very first conversations with athletes and medical staff on the issue we have been investigating the possibility of removing headguards and both our statistical research, and the feedback from boxers and coaches, shows us that this is the best outcome for our sport.

"It is undoubtedly a great achievement for AIBA to present our boxers without headguards at the next Olympic Games, the most important sporting event."

Rio 2016 will be the first Olympic boxing tournament since Moscow in 1980 to take place without headguards ©Getty Images
Rio 2016 will be the first Olympic boxing tournament since Moscow in 1980 to take place without headguards

AIBA's Medical Commission’s claim to have studied 11,000 bouts around the world, producing several scientific studies that it is actually safer for boxers to compete without headguards then with them. 

AIBA claimed after the 2013 World Championships in Almaty that there was a decrease in the number of concussions compared to the 2011 edition of the Championships in Baku.

Women, who only made their debut in Olympic boxing at London 2012, will still wear headguards in Rio de Janeiro. 

A #HeadsUp campaign was also launched at last October’s World Boxing Championships in Doha in order to train boxers to maintain a "heads-up" stance to help prevent concussions and cuts, based upon the four pillars of health, education, sport and sustainability.

British boxers preparing for Rio 2016, where professionals could also be allowed to compete if another controversial proposal from Wu is approved, have backed the decision to abolish headguards.

Super heavyweight Joe Joyce, the European Games champion and World Championship bronze medallist, claimed that it has made boxers fight differently and they no longer lead with their heads. 

"Headguards have been off for a couple of years now," he told insidethgames.

"With the headguards, people are used to coming in with their heads and obviously with the headguard protecting them, they won’t be getting cut.

"But, because they’ve come off now, when people go in, they’re more conscience of their heads now.

"So gradually there will be less cuts because people will be more aware of not having their headguard there as a safety net."