Olympic boxing will face the future in the middle of the leadership vote

Olympic boxing will face the future in the middle of the leadership vote


Allegations of corruption in Olympic boxing have existed for decades, including allegations of match-fixing at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. Now, continued allegations of mismanagement within the governing body could force the sport out of the Olympics.

Boxing is not on the International Olympic Committee’s agenda for the 2028 Los Angeles Games, and while the sport’s status could be renewed next year, concerns over its leadership are uncertain. Some see this weekend’s International Boxing Association presidential election as the sport’s chance to stay in the Olympics beyond 2024. Russia’s Umar Kremlev will face off against Dutch challenger Boris van der Vaarst, the IOC said in a recent letter. To the Kremlin “will be thoroughly evaluated.”

“For me, the final day of boxing depends on the outcome of this election because of the failure of the current leadership,” said Mike McTay, executive director of USA Boxing.

Following the Rio scandal, the IOC temporarily took over the sport in 2018 and set up a boxing task force to oversee the event at the Tokyo Olympics. Meanwhile, Kremlin was elected IBA president in 2020 and vowed to oversee reform at the organization, hiring Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, who investigated Russia’s state-sponsored doping program at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, to investigate the Rio allegations. The McLaren report, released a year ago, detailed instances of bribery and kickbacks.

But Kremlin’s other actions have raised eyebrows. He thanked President Vladimir Putin for moving most of the organization’s work from Switzerland’s Lausanne to Russia for the country’s boxing program. He spent heavily on marketing that seemed to promote himself. He opposed the call for an outside organization to handle the allocation of judges and jurors at the event.

The IOC has expressed concern that the IBA’s sole sponsor under the Kremlin is Russian energy company Gazprom, which has backed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and is “dependent” on a Russian-owned bank branch in Switzerland, whose operations are restricted by sanctions.

In his response to the IOC, he said the IBA had “implemented most of the recommended reforms” and defended the centralization of its workforce in Russia, saying it had “worked very hard to continue smooth operations going forward”. ” to train officials.

A separate email from an IBA spokesperson said the federation is “currently financially stable and has no financial problems” and will “announce two new sponsors in the near future”. The email cited a yet-to-be-published report from McLaren on refereeing and judging issues at the recent Commonwealth Games, calling it a “successful and problem-free tournament”.

Adding to the intrigue, Sunday’s vote will be the second in six months. Kremlinlev and van der Vaarst were supposed to face off in May, but on the eve of the vote, the IBA ethics committee rejected van der Vaarst for “premature agitation”. In the summer, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in van der Voorst’s favor, forcing a new election. At the time, the IOC announced in Tokyo last year that it would take over boxing for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

IOC executives, however frustrated, are reluctant to abandon boxing because it is one of the most racially segregated sports in the Olympics, with fighters from all backgrounds trying to attract athletes from wealthy families who can afford the exorbitant training costs, unlike many of the game’s elite.

In the year The addition of women’s fighters in 2012 helped give boxing one of the rarer competitors in the Olympics. With many fighters coming from underserved communities where boxing gyms bring structure to kids who have nothing, the IOC doesn’t want to draw away a critical source of funding for amateur boxing.

In a letter to Kremlin, the IOC noted a “lack of real evolution” in the management of the IBA and said the executive board’s decision to withdraw boxing from the Los Angeles program was “not in a position to reverse” and would continue to be monitored. A major concern is the management of the IBA.

In addition to boxing, the IOC released weightlifting (disturbed by reports of a doping culture) and modern pentathlon (undergoing renovations). To replace horse jumping as a discipline) outside of the original Los Angeles program. While those sports are being given a chance to return, they compete for inclusion with karate, lacrosse, cricket and others.

The IOC Executive Board will vote in late 2023, but recommendations are expected in the next few months. The tone of the ICO letter worries McAtee.

“If you look at everything [other sports the IOC can choose instead of boxing]what time is it? [IOC President] Thomas Bach and all are going to go, ‘Why are we still dealing with boxing?’ ” he said.

The fear among many boxers is that once boxing is dropped from the Olympics, it will never come back, eliminating an event that was part of the ancient Greek Olympics and has been at every Summer Games since 1904, eliminating competition. A significant source of income for amateur boxing organizations.

“This will be the end [Olympic] boxing, and I can’t accept that,” van der Varst said in an email. I can’t even imagine letting the boxers’ Olympic dreams be dashed.

He later added: “This is not just a competition between Omar and myself – this is a true Olympic battle for the future of our ancient and beautiful sport.”



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