Boxing is IBA from the Olympics, but the bouts still go on

Adeyemi Adeyemi
Adeyemi Adeyemi

Global Courant

International Olympic Committee withdraws recognition from International Boxing Association in Olympic events.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has expelled the International Boxing Association (IBA) from its ranks for failing to complete reforms on governance, finance and ethical issues.

In an IOC virtual extraordinary session on Thursday, 69 members voted to ban the IBA, with just one vote against. Ten members abstained from voting.

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The IOC’s decision was inevitable after it was recommended two weeks ago by the Governing Council, a body chaired by IOC President Thomas Bach.

However, boxing will retain its status as an Olympic sport at the 2024 Paris Games.

“We attach great importance to the sport of boxing. We have an extremely serious problem with IBA because of their governance,” Bach told IOC members during their online meeting.

The dispute centered on the management of the IBA under presidents from Uzbekistan and Russia, which the IOC disapproved of, the finances backed by Russia’s state energy company Gazprom, plus the integrity of fighting and judging.

“The boxers fully deserve to be governed by an international federation with integrity and transparency,” said the IOC president.

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National boxing federations defied the IOC’s warnings in 2018 by electing Gafur Rakhimov as president. The businessman from Uzbekistan is said to have ties to organized crime and heroin trafficking. The election of Umar Kremlev to replace Rakhimov in 2020 followed another round of IOC election warnings that went unheeded.

The IBA’s debts of nearly $20 million were canceled under Kremlev, and the IOC objected to the boxing organization’s financial dependence on Russia’s Gazprom.

Kremlev announced at the men’s world championships last month that the IBA was no longer sponsored by Gazprom, and his rhetoric against Olympic officials became more confrontational.

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The IOC already oversees boxing matches for the Paris Olympics without the intervention of the IBA, as it does for the 2021 Tokyo Games.

It was unclear whether boxers who represent national federations and remain affiliated with the IBA would be eligible to compete in the Paris bout.

The move means the sport of boxing can now be confirmed on the 2028 Olympic program in Los Angeles, which the IOC and Bach withheld as leverage against IBA. Boxing is “guaranteed” in Los Angeles, members were told on Thursday.

With the IBA relationship ended, the IOC can now begin working with a rival organization founded this year called World Boxing, which has received support from officials in the United States, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The IBA, which called Thursday’s decision a “huge mistake”, can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The eviction was “catastrophic for global boxing and flagrantly contradicts the IOC’s claims that it is acting in the best interests of boxing and its athletes,” the Lausanne-based IBA said in a statement.


Boxing is IBA from the Olympics, but the bouts still go on

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