The horror scenario of Olympic boxing is getting closer and closer. Boxing is on the brink of confirming its exclusion from the 2028 Games, and is just grappling with the ramifications it will have across all levels of the sport.
The current leadership of the IBA, the world governing body for amateur boxing, has been criticized for failing to reform itself and meet the demands of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to remain an Olympic sport.
“Frankly, the current leadership has failed to do the basics of good governance. I think the IOC needs to be strengthened,” USA Boxing chief executive Mike McAtee said. Sky Sports.
“We are concerned about this because it affects not only our boxers, but every boxer and aspiring boxer around the world. The consequences of the failed leadership at the IBA level will affect from eight-year-old children in the United States of America to Olympians in Europe. , Africa and Asia.
“It’s about proper governance, it’s about taking care of the athletes, it’s about fair play, it’s about ethics, it’s about cultural change, and the IBA doesn’t seem to accept that.”
The problem stems from the IOC’s expectation that the IBA will address its issues with governance, problems with alleged corruption and questionable administration, as well as its financial background.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that Boris van der Vorst was barred from competing against Russian businessman Umar Kremlev for the position of IBA president earlier this year. Subsequently, on September 25, an extraordinary Congress was held in Yerevan, Armenia, which allowed the IBA to hold presidential elections again. However, the IBA delegates voted against even holding this election.
This worsened the crisis. The IOC later reiterated that they were “extremely concerned” by the IMF and promised to review the situation.
“I’m not the IOC, but I can speak for myself and I’m deeply shocked by the IBA and such blatant disregard for the CAS ruling, and I think I have the same serious concerns expressed by the IOC,” Van der Vorst said. , who has now twice been deprived of the opportunity to participate in the real elections of the IBA president.
“I think there was no proper democratic process. I still can’t believe that they organized it the way they did in Yerevan. For me, more importantly, it’s a missed opportunity. for the boxers, coaches and just the whole boxing community deserves a fair and democratic process and that didn’t happen there in Yerevan.
“It was very frustrating.”
The future of Olympic boxing remains precarious. The sport has not been included in the 2028 Olympic program and time is fast running out to try to get it back.
The IBA defended itself vigorously. “The IOC believes that the IOC is misrepresenting its current situation, as it was surprising to learn that the IOC is concerned about the democratic decision of the IBA Congress, which should be respected as a decision by all parties, including domestic stakeholders. . the main governing body of boxing,” said an IBA spokesman Sky Sports.
“There can be no disagreement, because it is absolutely decisive. The national federations expressed their will and trusted the current leadership, especially Mr. Kremlin.
“Every day, the IBA goes above and beyond for the well-being of its athletes, as well as for their Olympic futures. Boxing deserves a place on the Games program and the IBA will do everything in its power to continue to reform and make the sport better.
“Many achievements have been made to date, including in the IOC’s three areas of ‘concern’: governance, refereeing and judging, and finance.
“IBA has done a great job. With the help of independent experts, we have improved our governance and created a pool of trusted R&Js. [referees and judges], whose background was carefully checked. All debts have been wiped out and IBA is now financially stable.”
The IBA has been criticized for suspending the Ukrainian boxing federation, which did not have voting rights in Congress, although it is said to have recommended that Ukraine’s junior team be allowed to box under its national symbols, flag and anthem in Europe. championships.
The IBA does not recognize Kyrylo Shevchenko as the president of the Ukrainian federation, but is instead headed by Volodymyr Prodivus, who left Ukraine after the Russian invasion in February and is now the vice president of the IBA.
“According to the decision of the board of directors of September 23, which was adopted in accordance with the constitution and regulations of the IBA, the membership of the Boxing Federation of Ukraine was suspended. According to the constitution of the IBA, this suspension means that the national federation will lose its rights for a period of suspended,” the IBA stated.
On Wednesday, the IBA announced it would allow athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus to compete in their events for now, saying: “The IBA firmly believes that politics should not influence sport. Therefore, the All athletes should be given equal conditions.” They were banned earlier this year based on IOC recommendations following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The wider picture of boxing as an Olympic sport remains bleak. The IOC has reinstated its Task Force for running boxing at the next Olympics, so the sport will be featured at Paris 2024. But there is no indication that the Task Force will continue after that, and boxing remains on the program for LA 2028 and is needed. a significant advance to be restored after the Paris Games.
“I really fought and campaigned to ensure the re-introduction of the IBA and boxing into the Olympic movement,” Van der Vorst said. “The main part of them [IBA’s] the mission is to be part of the Olympic charter, part of the Olympic movement, and I think they’re not doing a good job of that.
“What I wanted to present in Congress was a different way, but I was not allowed to speak there.
“We also have a legacy to protect for our boxers. The Olympics are really important.”
America has a proud history of boxing, and the US is hosting what will likely be the first Olympics that does not include the sport.
“I think the IOC has been incredibly tolerant. They understand that Olympic-style boxing is important not only in the United States, and not only in Western Europe, but in the whole world,” McAtee said.
“I think they worked hand in hand in trying to help the IBA, but at the end of the day it came down to the same result.”
Van der Vorst noted: “The IOC has done a very good job for boxing, really good for boxing. Despite all these sins, they have continued boxing in the Tokyo Olympics and even now for Paris.
“They took over the qualification and the organization of the tournament in Paris and Tokyo. It’s never happened before for one sport that they created the Boxing Task Force twice in a row to make sure that boxing will be in the Olympics.
“We have to be really grateful to the IOC for that. Now it’s up to us, the boxing community, to take more responsibility.”
But time is almost up. Van der Vorst said: “The clock is ticking, really ticking. We have to take responsibility to show the IOC our readiness and our commitment to be part of the Olympic movement.” “I have a boxing mentality. We’ve had a couple of eight counts. That’s definitely true, but we’re not knocked out yet, so we’re going to keep fighting.
“We have to fight together. It has to be a team effort and we have to work together to keep boxing in the Olympics.”
The level of all sports is high. Mackay said: “It’s amazing to have a medal around your neck, to represent your country. I talk to our boxers who say they were training at the same moment when they were 12, eight and 16. And Olympics is the highest level of sport in the world and we should be there.
“And that’s why it’s important that we respect the IOC and understand that being part of the Olympic movement is a privilege, not a right.”