Professional boxers will be allowed compete in the Rio Olympics

The news was confirmed at an AIBA meeting in Lausanne

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Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Professional boxers will be given the opportunity to compete in the Olympic Games for the first time this summer.

Boxing has always been an amateur discipline in the Games, since it was first introduced at the 1904 Games in St. Louis. That will change this summer after the world governing body AIBA voted to change the qualifying criteria at a meeting in Switzerland.

The idea is the brainchild of the Association's President Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu. Speaking in February, he hoped to have the rules changed in time to allow professional boxers to compete in Brazil.

Reaction to the idea has been largely negative with former World Champions such as Mike Tyson and David Haye saying it was a poor idea. Manny Pacquiao originally claimed he would like to compete in the event before quickly backtracking his comments.

According to Inside the Games, a qualifying tournament will take place in Venezuela in July to allow professional boxers to try and qualify. 

The news means that former Irish Olympians such as John Joe Nevin or Andy Lee could theoretically try and qualify for the Games. Former World silver medallist Jason Quigley turned professional in 2014, but now has a route to try and add to his quality amateur career.

Seven Irish boxers have already qualified for the Rio event. The boxing competition begins on August 6th and will finish on August 21st.