Boxing at the Olympic Games has been given a reprieve for Paris, and possibly Los Angeles but the IOC Executive Committee moved yesterday to suspend the International Boxing Association, the body that has traditionally been recognised as the International Governing Body and the organiser of the Sport’s World Championships.
“Despite the various chances given to the IBA, including the roadmap 2021 to 2023, to address the various concerns with actual, effective evolution, the IBA was unable to provide the elements which would have allowed the lifting of its suspension,” said a report on the Association filed before a specially convened meeting of the IOC Executive yesterday.
“Therefore, it is not possible to reach any conclusion other than to confirm the analysis made by the IOC Session in 2019, which was at no time contested by the IBA, on the necessity to withdraw the IOC’s recognition of the IBA.
“Effectively, the situation has become so serious that the only proportional conclusion is to withdraw the IOC’s recognition of the IBA pursuant to the Olympic Charter.”
The next stage is a full meeting of the IOC which is expected to ratify the decision.
The IOC will now repeat what it did for Tokyo 2020 and run the Paris 2024 programme as well as the qualifying process.
The Olympic Federation of Ireland was quick to applaud the decision.
“The IBA has been suspended by the IOC since 2019 because of failures to adopt governance reforms,” said a statement issued last evening just before 6 PM.
“Consequently, boxing has not been included on the programme for the Olympic Games of Los Angeles 2028 and will be run by the IOC taskforce at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”
“From an Irish perspective, boxing has produced over 50% of Ireland’s historical medals. Although many other sports are increasingly coming to the fore, boxing remains very important to Ireland’s medal hopes and plays a very important role in communities across the country.”
“This recommendation by the IOC Executive Board could ultimately safeguard the future for boxing as an Olympic sport if the recently launched alternative organisation, World Boxing, can gain the support of boxing federations across the world, which the Olympic Federation of Ireland hopes will be the case.”
That organisation, World Boxing, also welcomed the IOC move.
“This is a very significant moment as it provides an opportunity for the sport to move on from the corrosive leadership of the IBA which has brought boxing to a place where its status as a part of the Olympic programme is in doubt.”
“The loss of Olympic status would be devastating for boxing and have damaging long-term consequences, across the globe, for boxers and everyone connected to the sport, from elite level to the grassroots.”
“World Boxing was established to prevent this catastrophic situation from arising and to create a better future and is committed to working constructively and collaboratively with the IOC and all other stakeholders to develop a pathway that will preserve boxing’s ongoing place on the Olympic programme.”
“Boxing is at a crossroads and we urge every National Federation that cares about boxers and boxing to think about how they can help to deliver a better future for the sport and support World Boxing in its efforts to keep boxing at the heart of the Olympic Movement.”
That urge will require substantial backing from other parts of the world outside of the predominantly English-speaking and Western European makeup of World Boxing as it stands at the moment.
The IBA has unexpectedly condemned the decision, calling it politically motivated and saying it will seek “a fair assessment from a competent court.”
“We have made the International Boxing Association new, transparent and clean, and our successes were publicly acknowledged by international independent experts and there is only one organisation that has no interest in recognising our tremendous progress,” said IBA President and associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Umar Kremlev.
The IBA Secretary General George Yerolimpos did say though that they would “continue to explore options with the IOC in a spirit of open dialogue.”
Sport for Business Perspective
Boxing has always been a messy business in its administration. Witness the number of belts representing the number of Governing Bodies in the professional game.
This backwards and forwards pre-dated the Russian invasion of Ukraine but the strong Russian influence on the IBA exacerbated an already distrustful relationship and this latest move is of little surprise.
Saving the Paris programme and then working quickly to prove it was worth re-instating for LA was the imperative and has been done in the first instance and looks like is advancing in the second.