AIBA launched the bidding process for Tokyo 2020 qualification events today ©Getty Images

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has ignored an ongoing inquiry by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after the embattled governing body opened the bidding process for Tokyo 2020 qualification events today.

In a letter sent to member federations, seen by insidethegames, AIBA executive director Tom Virgets invited countries to bid for four continental competitions and the world final qualification event.

The launch of the process comes despite the IOC halting all planning for the Olympic boxing tournament at Tokyo 2020, including qualification, after the organisation initiated an inquiry into AIBA last year, and follows athletes expressing concern amid continued uncertainty.

AIBA has openly defied the IOC as freezing the "approval and implementation of a qualification system" was among the additional measures the IOC placed on the governing body amid ongoing concerns with its governance, financial management and the integrity of its competitions.

The IOC probe could lead to AIBA being stripped of the right to organise the boxing competition at Tokyo 2020.

With this threat hovering over the governing body, a breakaway group, led by Kazakhstan's Serik Konakbayev - who lost the Presidential election to Gafur Rakhimov - offered to oversee and manage the qualification system for the Tokyo 2020 tournament in a letter sent to the IOC.

The move was met with anger from the AIBA Executive Committee, which subsequently launched an investigation into what they claim is a "rogue group of Kazakhstani individuals" within the organisation.

AIBA then said it had "decided to take steps forward in planning the placement of the Olympic qualifications" even though it has not been given the authority to do so by the IOC.

The organisation said at the time that this process "will be conditional on the progress being made with the IOC, but will be able to give a pathway forward for athletes in their plans towards the 2020 Olympic Games".

The letter was sent to member federations by AIBA executive director Tom Virgets ©ITG
The letter was sent to member federations by AIBA executive director Tom Virgets ©ITG

In the letter, Virgets is seemingly careful not to call the events Olympic qualifiers as AIBA is barred from using any Olympic properties.

Countries interested in hosting qualifiers in Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa have been given until March 31 to send a letter of intent to AIBA.

No further deadlines are provided.

It marks the latest act of defiance from AIBA since the IOC started its investigation, being chaired by Executive Board member Nenad Lalovic.

Members of the AIBA Executive Committee questioned the decision from the IOC to freeze planning for the boxing competition at Tokyo 2020 and claimed the IOC had failed to protect athletes during its meeting in Istanbul earlier this month.

AIBA also criticised the IOC after the Committee tasked with leading the inquiry sent 41 questions to the governing body.

The IOC has, however, publicly stated that the election of Rakhimov on a permanent basis is one of its major concerns with AIBA owing to him remaining on a United States Treasury Department sanctions list as "one of Uzbekistan's leading criminals".

Rakhimov has employed a legal team to clear his name but his attempts to do so have so far been unsuccessful.

The Uzbek official recently claimed he was hopeful of a swift resolution to the IOC inquiry and insisted it was time to "put athletes first and leave behind all the politics".

IOC President Thomas Bach has previously reassured athletes that there would be a boxing competition at Tokyo 2020 but who will organise and run it, and how they will qualify, remains unclear.

The situation with AIBA will be among the main items discussed during the IOC Executive Board meeting on March 26 to 28.

insidethegames has contacted the IOC and AIBA for comment.