The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said the International Boxing Association (IBA) governing body will continue to be shut out of future Olympic programs until it implements a “drastic change of culture.”
The IOC’s latest warning for the beleaguered organization comes at a crucial time, with boxing currently dropped from the program for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, US.
In a letter published yesterday (December 6), the IOC said: “Boxing is currently not included in the initial sports program of the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028.
“If a decision had to be taken today regarding the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028, the IOC Executive Board would not be able to recommend the IOC Session to include boxing in the sports program under the authority of the IBA as IBA has not demonstrated that it has successfully addressed the ongoing concerns around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability, and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes.”
The letter comes a day after former world champion Roy Jones Jr led a group of protestors outside the Olympic House in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the IOC Executive Board is meeting from Monday (December 5) to today (December 7).
The IBA (then the AIBA) was stripped of involvement in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with the IOC organizing the boxing tournament for the event.
Qualifying for the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympics is also being run by the IOC, with plans for the Olympic body to again organize the boxing tournament for the next flagship event.
The IOC’s issues with the IBA stem from its current leadership under Russia’s Umar Kremlev, with the body’s financial dependence on Russian energy firm Gazprom a particular concern.
In May, Kremlev controversially retained his position as president after delegates voted against holding a fresh election, despite the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling that Dutch official Boris van de Vorst should be allowed to stand for election.
A few days later, the IBA then drew further ire from the IOC after announcing it would reverse a ban on amateur boxers from Russia and Belarus, allowing them to compete with national flags and anthems.
The move was in direct conflict with the IOC’s guidance to sports governing bodies to remove athletes from Russia and Belarus, which Moscow used as key staging areas for the country’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
Responding to the latest letter, a spokesperson for IBA told news outlet Sky Sports: "IBA has gone through a comprehensive reform process, supported by leading international experts. In fact, we have already addressed the majority of the IOC's concerns in regard to governance, financial, and sporting integrity over the last two years.
“That said, the specific concerns of the IOC noted in their letter have not been communicated with us, and we seek clarity on this to continue the progress made by IBA.
"We believe that the organization is on the right track, reinforced by our boxers' reiterated support of IBA as the true home of boxing and the continued athlete-driven approach to governance.
"The future of boxing will be discussed at the Global Boxing Forum this weekend, including boxing's Olympic prospects. As stated by the IBA President, all boxing stakeholders must be involved in this crucial discussion. IBA will gladly share the outcomes of the Forum, which is also available to be watched on our YouTube channel.
"We stand for giving the best opportunities for our athletes, and since the Olympics is one of their dreams, IBA will be fighting to ensure this opportunity for its boxers by fulfilling promises and delivering more reforms.
"What is more, IBA is open to a fair dialogue with the IOC, and we will continue to provide them with all necessary updates on a regular basis.
"With this approach, IBA believes that the way for boxing and IBA at the Olympics will be found."
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