Lausanne — The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) tolerance with boxing’s problematic regulatory organization appeared to be wearing thin following “disturbing events” during the IBA’s special session last weekend.
An IOC spokesperson told AFP on Thursday the Olympic rulers were “extremely concerned” with the lack of a new election for the IBA presidency, and the suspension in the run-up to the congress in Yerevan of the Ukrainian boxing federation.
In consequence the IOC’s executive board “will have to comprehensively assess the situation” at its next meeting in December, the spokeswoman said.
This raises the stakes regarding boxing’s future as one of the staple Olympic sports.
Boxing’s corrupt world governing body is barred from organizing its own events at the Paris 2024 Olympics, just as it was at Tokyo’s delayed 2020 Olympics a year ago.
Boxing’s presence in the 2028 Los Angeles Games is also far from assured. It was excluded from the original schedule, with the IOC keeping the door open for its reinstatement in 2023 if the IBA implements the necessary adjustments.
Beset by judging scandals from Athens 2004 to Rio 2016, a debt mountain, and an ex-president considered by the US to be “one of the leader’s of organised crime” from Uzbekistan, the IBA appointed Russian Umar Kremlev as its new chief in 2020.
Despite establishing an independent investigation under the direction of Canadian attorney Richard McLaren, the 39-year-old former head of a private security firm has done little to convince the IOC that boxing is in safe hands.
The association’s “financial dependency” on the giant Russian gas company Gazprom has also caused disquiet.
In May last year Kremlov was re-elected uncontested after his Dutch rival, Boris van der Vorst, was banned from the election on grounds that were dismissed by sport’s highest court, CAS, a month later.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport’s verdict triggered the need for a new election but the IOC spokesperson pointed out that that failed to take place last Sunday.
Instead, “only a vote not to hold an election” was staged in chaotic circumstances with a power outage in the middle of the voting process.
The IOC was also troubled by the expulsion of the Ukrainian federation at a time when sport in Ukraine is struggling due to Russia’s invasion of the country in February, an invasion that has resulted in a slew of sanctions being imposed on Russia.
“Following these troubling events, the IOC EB will have to comprehensively assess the issue at its next meeting,” the statement stated.
Boxing has appeared at every one of the modern Games since St Louis in 1904 apart from Stockholm 1912 due to a ban on the sport in Sweden.
And despite the black cloud over its future for Jean-Loup Chappelet, an Olympic specialist at the University of Lausanne, boxing is such a popular sport the IOC “will do everything to keep it”.
Chappelet thinks that even if the IOC has come to the end of its tether with the IBA it could in time acknowledge an entirely new international organisation made up of boxing federations from around the world devoted to the Olympic goal.
A notion “which is undoubtedly being looked at” he says, pointing out that it will not be the first time the IOC has followed this path, citing similar examples when rock climbing and skateboarding joined the Olympic party.