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IOC vs IBA: A tussle putting future of Boxing in Olympics under scrutiny

The dispute centred around the IBA's management under presidents from Uzbekistan and Russia has led to IOC disbanding.

IOC vs IBA: A tussle putting future of Boxing in Olympics under scrutiny

IOC bans boxing's world governing body IBA in June 2023.


Shourya Mehta

Updated: 25 Sep 2023 6:18 PM GMT

The boxing draws for the Asian Games 2023 raised many eyebrows, especially when world champion Nikhat Zareen was pitted against her opponent from the World Championships final earlier this year.

The case was the same in men's 63.5 kg category where India's Shiva Thapa was handed a favourable draw.

With the lopsided draws, the important concern is that in the Asian Games, an Olympic qualifying event, such random draws will hamper the chances of deserving boxers for an Olympic quota place.

The reason behind such draws is that no boxer is seeded because boxing at the Asian Games is being conducted by a task force constituted by the International Olympic Committee as the International Boxing Association is banned.

We look into this tussle between the IOC and IBA that is going to have some impact on the sport of boxing at the Asian Games as well as in future events.

The International Olympic Committee withdrew recognition of the world boxing's governing body International Boxing Association (IBA) on June 22 this year in accordance with Rule 3.7 of the Olympic Charter (OC).

In its meeting, the IOC came to the conclusion that the IBA failed to fulfil the conditions set by the IOC.

"We highly value the sport. However, we have a really big issue with IBA," said Thomas Bach, IOC President.

The dispute centred around the IBA's management under presidents from Uzbekistan and Russia. IOC disbanded it due to the alleged financial and administrative malpractices.

How the decision was made?

The IOC Session, which convened virtually on June 22, 2023, agreed to withdraw recognition of the International Boxing Association (IBA) in accordance with Olympic Charter (OC) Rule 3.7 on the suggestion of the Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

With 10 members abstaining, the vote was 69-1 in favour of the decision.

Why did the IBA get banished?

After the IOC initially suspended the organisation back in 2019, ongoing issues with the boxing federation's governance, finances, and officiating have contributed to this. The beleaguered boxing federation and the IOC have a history of disagreements. Calls for reform were sparked by worries about officiating and manipulation.

Will Boxing remain an Olympic sport?

The fight to preserve boxing in the Olympics is the biggest one right now. The International Boxing Association was kicked out of the IOC, but the sport will still be played in Paris in 2024.

Boxing is in danger of permanently losing its Olympic status because it is not listed on the preliminary schedule of the 2028 Olympic Games. Even though the IBA has gone too far in the eyes of the IOC, boxing might be brought back to the Olympics in 2028, with a new governing body taking over the charge of the sport.

A breakaway organization called World Boxing was established earlier this year with the specific goal of obtaining IOC recognition and attempting to keep boxing as an Olympic sport. Before this decision, countries like Great Britain and the USA had already committed themselves to joining World Boxing.

What future holds for IBA and World Boxing?

The IBA declared that it would not prevent any of its members from competing in the Olympics. Additionally, they will give athletes complete support so that they can compete in all competitions, including the Olympic Games, and they will always assist nations that are struggling financially.

As far as World Boxing is concerned, they released a statement that all national boxing federations must now make a crucial choice if they want to give their country's boxers the chance to fight at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles and beyond. We implore each national federation to associate with and aid World Boxing in its initiatives to maintain boxing's central position within the Olympic movement.

What is the athletes' opinion?

Bach did voice support for the sport itself. "We appreciate boxing as one of the most global sports. We embrace the values of boxing," he said, praising the sport's "important social role promoting inclusion". He added: "The boxers fully deserve to be governed by an international federation with integrity and transparency. It's so important for boxers to reach the Olympics without corruption going on."

Where do Indian boxers stand?

This feud to clean up the sport has left Indian boxers anxious. Indian boxers won medals in three of the last four Olympics and are hopeful of finishing on the podium in the French capital in the 2024 Olympics.

Moreover, there was a similar tussle between the IOA and IOC. The IOC issued a final warning to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to hold elections by December or face a ban.

However, the issue was resolved and the International Olympic Committee is satisfied with India’s efforts. The meeting between the Indian officials and their counterparts at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland went off well last year.

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