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IOC expel IBA: boxing out of Olympic Games?

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have expelled the International Boxing Association (IBA), the amateur sport’s world governing body, from the Olympic movement.

The decision, confirmed at the Extraordinary IOC Session on Thursday, comes after the IOC’s executive board recommended the IBA be stripped of recognition earlier this month.
It is the first time the IOC has expelled a sport’s governing body.

Long-running concerns about the boxing federation’s governance, finances and officiating has led to this, after the IOC initially suspended the body back in 2019.
“We highly value the sport of boxing. We have an extremely serious problem with the IBA because of their governance,” IOC president Thomas Bach said during their online meeting.

The beleaguered boxing federation had repeatedly been at odds with the IOC.

Concerns over bout manipulation and officiating led to calls for reform.

Under the leadership of Russia’s Umar Kremlev, an opponent was denied the opportunity to run against him for the role of president in an election.

Umar Kremlev is the incumbent president of international governing body IBA
Image:Umar Kremlev is the incumbent president of international governing body IBA

Sponsorship from Russian state owned energy giant Gazprom attracted further condemnation along with the IBA’s decision to allow Russian and Belarussian athletes to compete under their national flags after the invasion of Ukraine.

Only this week the IOC condemned Kremlev for saying one of his predecessors, the former IOC member CK Wu, should be “shot” as he accused him of “killing boxing” with the complicity of Bach and IOC sports director Kit McConnell.

The IBA had called the IOC board’s recommendation “truly abhorrent and purely political” and tried to have it blocked through an urgent appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, sports highest court, which rejected the appeal on Tuesday.

An IOC Task Force will administer the boxing tournament at the Paris 2024 Games, as it did for boxing at the last Olympics in Tokyo, but the sport’s long-term future in the Olympics has been in doubt.

Boxing has been left off the provisional programme of sports for the 2028 Olympic Games, leaving the sport at risk of losing its Olympic status once and for all.

However on Thursday Bach did voice support for the sport itself. “We appreciate boxing as one of the most global sports. We embrace the values of boxing,” he said, praising the sport’s “important social role promoting inclusion.”

A new international boxing federation has been launched by a collection of leaders from national federations across the world, including Great Britain, in a bid to ensure that Boxing remains an Olympic sport

He added: “The boxers fully deserve to be governed by an international federation with integrity and transparency.”

On Thursday IOC director general Christophe De Kepper did say he could “guarantee” boxing would be at the LA Games.

Although the IBA has passed the point of no return as far as the IOC is concerned, boxing could be reintroduced to the 2028 Olympics under a new governing body.

Earlier this year a breakaway federation, World Boxing, was founded with the express intention of seeking recognition from the IOC and trying to preserve boxing as an Olympic sport.

Before today’s decision nations, including GB and the USA, had already committed themselves to joining World Boxing.

‘We need to be in the Olympics’

Leading athletes in the sport have also lent their support to World Boxing.

Franchon Crews-Dezurn, the undisputed super-middleweight world champion who is also on USA Boxing’s board of directors, explained why the US chose to join World Boxing.

“We’re fighting together to save amateur boxing for the Olympics,” she told Sky Sports. “This can bring attention to trying to save the Olympics and showing that women’s boxing is very important.

“We need the Olympics, we need to be in the Olympics and [have] fair play.”

Lauren Price, the middleweight gold medallist at the Tokyo Games, is also backing World Boxing. “It’s definitely time for change,” she told Sky Sports. “If boxing isn’t in the Olympics it would be devastating.

“It’s so important for boxers to reach the Olympics without corruption going on.”

Lauren Price during the kitting out session for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 at the Birmingham NEC, UK.
Image:Olympic star Lauren Price has backed World Boxing

World Boxing described the IOC’s decision as a positive step.

In a statement a spokesperson said: “The IOC’s decision and the comments by its President make it clear that IBA will never again be allowed to organise a boxing tournament at the Olympic Games and that a new international federation – which is committed to delivering sporting integrity and operates according to the highest standards of governance, transparency and financial management – will inevitably be required to oversee future Olympic boxing tournaments.

“World Boxing supports this view and understands that being part of the Olympic Games is a privilege and not a right and is committed to working constructively and collaboratively with the IOC and all other stakeholders to develop a pathway that will preserve boxing’s long-term place on the Olympic programme.

“This is a hugely significant moment for the sport. All national boxing federations now have a critically important decision to make if they want boxers from their country to have the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games at Los Angeles and beyond and we urge every national federation that cares about boxers and boxing to join and support World Boxing in its efforts to ensure boxing remains at the heart of the Olympic movement.”

Credit: Sky Sports 

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