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Boxing’s IBA has pulled out of the Olympics, but the fight for the Paris Games is still on

The International Olympic Committee has withdrawn the International Boxing Association’s recognition of Olympic events.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has expelled the International Boxing Association (IBA) for failing to undertake complete reforms in governance, finance and ethics.

In a virtual extraordinary IOC session on Thursday, 69 members voted in favor of expelling the IBA, with only one vote against. Ten members abstained from voting.

The IOC’s decision was inevitable after the Executive Board, chaired by IOC President Thomas Bach, made the recommendation two weeks ago.

Boxing, however, will retain its status as an Olympic sport at the 2024 Paris Games.

“We value the sport of boxing very much. We have a very serious problem with the IBA because of their governance,” Bach told IOC members during their online meeting.

The dispute focuses on the management of the IBA under the presidents of Uzbekistan and Russia, which the IOC denies is supported by Russian state energy company Gazprom, as well as the integrity of the competition and judging.

“Boxers deserve to be governed by an international federation with complete integrity and transparency,” the IOC president said.

National boxing federations defied the IOC warning by electing Gafur Rakhimov as president in 2018. The businessman from Uzbekistan is accused of involvement in organized crime and heroin trafficking. The selection of Umar Kremlin to succeed Rakhimov in 2020 followed another round of IOC electoral warnings that went unheeded.

Under the Kremlin, the IBA’s debt approached $20 million, and the IOC objected to the boxing organization’s financial dependence on Russia’s Gazprom.

Kremlin announced at the men’s world championships last month that the IBA was no longer sponsored by Gazprom, and his rhetoric against Olympic officials has become more confrontational.

The IOC is already overseeing the boxing competition for the Paris Olympics without the involvement of the IBA, as it did for the Tokyo Games in 2021.

It was unclear whether boxers representing national federations affiliated with the IBA would be classified as eligible for the Paris competition.

The move means the sport of boxing can now be confirmed on the Los Angeles Olympic program for 2028, which the IOC and Bach had been holding out as leverage against the IBA. Boxing is “certain” to take place in Los Angeles, members were told Thursday.

With the IBA relationship now over, the IOC can now begin working with a rival organization created this year called World Boxing, which has received support from officials in the United States, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The IBA, which called Thursday’s decision a “gross error”, may appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The ban was “disastrous for boxing worldwide and clearly contradicts the IOC’s claim to act in the best interests of boxing and athletes”, the Lausanne-based IBA said in a statement.

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