GENEVA—The International Olympic Committee (IOC) finally ran out of patience with the International Boxing Federation (IBA) on Wednesday and set a date to terminate its Olympic status this month.
While boxing will still be on the program at the 2024 Paris Games, the IOC said its executive board has asked the full membership to withdraw its recognition of the IBA at a special meeting on June 22.
IOC members rarely vote against recommendations from their 15-member board and the IBA’s ouster is likely a formality.
The IOC had already suspended the IBA’s recognition in 2019 over long-standing financial, sports integrity and governance issues. The Olympic body oversaw the boxing competitions itself at the Tokyo Olympics held in 2021 and will do so again for Paris.
An IOC statement said the boxing body “has failed to fulfil the conditions set by the IOC … for lifting the suspension of the IBA’s recognition.”
The IBA criticized what it called a “truly abhorrent and purely political” decision by the IOC and warned of “retaliatory measures.”
“Now, we are left with no chance but to demand a fair assessment from a competent court,” the boxing body’s Russian president Umar Kremlev said in a statement.
The IOC-IBA standoff has also put boxing’s place at the 2028 Los Angeles Games at risk, though that should now be resolved.
The IOC previously stressed it has no problem with the sport or its athletes — just the IBA and its current president Kremlev, plus financial dependence on Russian state energy firm Gazprom.
In a 24-page report on IBA issues published Wednesday, the IOC concluded “the accumulation of all of these points, and the constant lack of drastic evolution throughout the many years, creates a situation of no-return.”
Olympic boxing’s reputation has been in question for decades. Tensions heightened after boxing officials worldwide ousted long-time IOC member CK Wu as their president in 2017 when the organization was known by its French acronym AIBA.
“From a disreputable organization named AIBA governed by someone from the IOC’s upper echelon, we committed to and executed a change in the toxic and corrupt culture that was allowed to fester under the IOC for far too long,” Kremlev said Wednesday in a statement.
National federations then defied IOC warnings in 2018 by electing as their president Gafur Rakhimov, a businessman from Uzbekistan with alleged ties to organized crime and heroin trafficking.
Kremlev’s election to replace Rakhimov in 2020 followed another round of IOC warnings that went unheeded.
Amid the IBA turmoil, a rival organization called World Boxing has attracted initial support from officials in the United States, Switzerland and Britain.
The IBA can still continue to organize its own events and held the men’s world championships last month in the Uzbek capital Tashkent.
Image credits: AP