Boxing could be dropped from 2024 Paris Olympics, IOC says

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Boxing

Boxing could be dropped from the 2024 Paris Olympics due to governance issues within the sport.

The IOC said in a statement Thursday, first reported by the Washington Post, that recent International Boxing Association (IBA) decisions could lead to “the cancellation of boxing” for the 2024 Paris Games.

Some of the already reported governance issues led to the IOC stripping IBA — then known as AIBA — of its Olympic recognition in 2019. AIBA had suspended all 36 referees and judges used at the 2016 Rio Olympics pending an investigation into a possible judging scandal, one that found that some medal bouts were fixed by “complicit and compliant” referees and judges.

The IOC ran the Tokyo Olympic boxing competition.

Boxing was not included on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games announced last December, though it could still be added. The IBA must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” IOC President Thomas Bach said then.

This past June, the IOC said IBA would not run qualifying competitions for the 2024 Paris Games.

In September, the IOC said it was “extremely concerned” about the Olympic future of boxing after an IBA extraordinary congress overwhelmingly backed Russian Umar Kremlev to remain as its president rather than hold an election.

Kremlev was re-elected in May after an opponent, Boris van der Vorst of the Netherlands, was barred from running against him. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in June that van der Vorst should have been eligible to run against Kremlev, but the IBA group still decided not to hold a new election.

Two weeks ago, Kremlev defended the IBA at a forum in Abu Dhabi, saying it implemented most of the recommendations given to them by the IOC and that the IBA respected the IOC.

“I would also like to say to the International Olympic Committee that they can issue recommendations to us, but they have no right to dictate to us how to live,” Kremlev said, according to a translator, while seated between retired U.S. Olympic boxing medalists Evander Holyfield and Roy Jones Jr. “Not a single other organization should interfere or meddle in the business of our association.

“I would like to urge the International Olympic Committee to create a working party, and we will resolve everything quite quickly. There will be no problems.”

The IOC’s full statement Thursday read:

“The recent IBA Congress has shown once more that IBA has no real interest in the sport of boxing and the boxers, but is only interested in its own power. The decisions and discussions to keep boxers away from the Olympic qualifiers and the Olympic Games cannot be understood differently. It has also become clear again, that IBA wants to distract from its own grave governance issues by pointing to the past, which has been addressed by the IOC already in 2019. There is no will to understand the real issues, the contrary: the extension of the sponsorship contract with Gazprom as the sole main sponsor of IBA reinforces the concerns, which the IOC has expressed since 2019 over and over again. This announcement confirms that IBA will continue to depend on a company which is largely controlled by the Russian government. The concerns also include the recent handling of the CAS decision which did not lead a new Presidential election, but only a vote not to hold an election. The IOC will have to take all this into consideration when it takes further decisions, which may – after these latest developments – have to include the cancellation of boxing for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.”

The 2024 Olympic boxing qualifying period starts May 1

Boxing made its Olympic debut in 1904 and has been on the program continuously since 1920.

The Associated Press and NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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International Boxing Association lifts ban on Russia, Belarus

Boxing gloves

The International Boxing Association (IBA) lifted its ban on amateur boxers from Russia and Belarus over the war in Ukraine that had been in place since early March.

“The IBA strongly believes that politics shouldn’t have any influence on sports,” the federation said in a press release. “Hence, all athletes should be given equal conditions.”

Most international sports federations banned athletes from Russia and Belarus indefinitely seven months ago, acting after an IOC recommendation. It is believed that the IBA is the first international federation in an Olympic sport to lift its ban.

The IOC has not officially changed its recommendation from last winter to exclude Russia and Belarus athletes “to protect the integrity of the events and the safety of the other participants.”

Last week, IOC President Thomas Bach said in an interview with an Italian newspaper that Russian athletes who do not endorse their country’s war in Ukraine could at some point be accepted back into international sports, competing under a neutral flag.

IBA, in lifting its ban, will also allow Russia and Belarus flags and national anthems.

“The time has now come to allow all the rest of the athletes of Russia and Belarus to participate in all the official competitions of their sports representing their countries,” IBA President Umar Kremlev, a Russian, said in a press release last week. “Both the IOC and the International Federations must protect all athletes, and there should be no discrimination based on nationality. It is the duty of all of us to keep sports and athletes away from politics.”

In 2019, the IOC stripped the IBA — then known as AIBA — of its Olympic recognition following an inquiry committee report into finance, governance, refereeing and judging. The IOC ran the Tokyo Olympic boxing competition.

The IBA will not run qualifying events for the 2024 Paris Games, but it does still hold world championships, the next being a men’s event in Uzbekistan next year.

Boxing, introduced on the Olympic program in 1904, was not included on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games but can still be added. The IBA must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” Bach said last December.

On Sept. 23, the IBA suspended Ukraine’s boxing federation, citing “government interference.” Ukraine boxers are still allowed to compete with their flag and anthem.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Rashida Ellis rebounds from Olympics, wins world boxing title

Rashida Ellis

Rashida Ellis became the first U.S. woman to win a world boxing title at an Olympic weight since Claressa Shields in 2016, taking the 60kg lightweight crown in Istanbul on Friday.

Ellis, 26, beat Olympic silver medalist Beatriz Ferreira of Brazil in a 3-2 decision. It was a rematch of 2019 World Championships and 2019 Pan American Games semifinals, both won by Ferreira.

“It’s about time,” Ellis said, according to USA Boxing. “I feel good, I worked hard for this. I had to just fight my fight, and look what happens when I do.”

Olympic lightweight gold medalist Kellie Harrington of Ireland missed worlds due to injury.

Ellis won the lone U.S. medal at women’s worlds, which finish Friday.

Last year, Ellis lost 3-0 in her opening bout in her Olympic debut.

“It’s not stopping me from becoming the best in the world,” she posted on social media after that defeat.

The Massachusetts native began boxing at age 10, following two older brothers into the sport.

“I started fighting boys in school and beating them up,” Ellis said before the Tokyo Games. “As a punishment, I had to go to the gym with my brothers. They put me in the ring, and I loved it.”

After the two-time Olympic champion Shields turned professional in 2016, U.S. women won one gold between the 2018 and 2019 Worlds — Danielle Perkins‘ heavyweight crown in 2019. Perkins won an 81+kg division. The heaviest Olympic weight division is capped at 75kg.

Oshae Jones won the U.S.’ lone women’s boxing medal at the Tokyo Games, a welterweight bronze. Jones, 24, is now listed as a professional boxer on her social media.

NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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