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Boxing could be dropped from 2024 Paris Olympics, IOC says

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Boxing

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 29, 2021: ROC’s Gleb Bakshi (L) and US Troy Isley fight in their men’s middleweight boxing Round of 16 bout during the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games, at the Kokugikan Arena. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images)

Valery Sharifulin/TASS

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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