Olympic boxing in jeopardy as IBA congress refuses to re-run presidential election

Olympic boxing faces a bleak future after delegates at today’s extraordinary Congress of the International Boxing Associating voted overwhelming not to re-run the Presidential election.

he Russian born incumbent Umar Kremlev was re-elected by popular acclaim for a four-year term four months ago in Istanbul after his only challenger Boris van der Vorst from the Netherland was controversially deemed ineligible.

This decision was subsequently overturned by the Court for Arbitration for Sport. But in their judgment, CAS fell short of ordering a re-run of the contest.

However, the IBA’s own Board of Directors recommended that the contest between Kremlev and Van der Vorst be re-run to today’s special Congress in Yerevan, capital of Armenia.

Despite pleas from the IBA’s larger Federations such as the US, England, France, Sweden, New Zealand, and Australia it was clear from the tone of the debate that most delegates were opposed to re-running the contest even though Kremlev would obviously have won it.

Delegates voted 106 to 36 not to re-run the election an outcome which is likely to go down like a ‘lead balloon’ with the International Olympic Committee.

They originally suspended the IBA – then known as AIBA – in May 2019. And the chances of it being re-admitted any time soon have now evaporated.

While the boxing tournament at the Paris Olympics it 2024 will go ahead under the auspices of the IOC, the sport is not included in the programme for the 2028 Games.

The IOC has made it clear albeit in diplomatic language that they will not deal with the IBA so long as Kremlev – who was pictured recently with the President of Russia Vladimir Putin at the opening of a new boxing centre in Moscow – remains as president.

At the conclusion of the Congress, Kremlev made a defiant speech referencing the role a previous AIBA President Dr Ck Wu had in virtually bankrupting the organisation while he was also a member of the executive committee of the IOC.

“I am working for you, not a side organisation. We have to think about tomorrow, our children should not be ashamed of what we have done,” he said.

“We today are creating the future of our children, of our athletes.

“We are saying that we are an independent organisation, and we are here to protect our IBA that we all love, and we shouldn’t say Olympic boxing, we should say IBA boxing.

“We have to get to point where boxing will be part of the Olympic Games in 2024 and 2028,” he said.

There was no shortage of drama at the Congress – which was delayed by 45 minutes due to a power failure.

Prior to the lights going out the new IBA secretary general George Yerolimpos announced that 97 delegates would vote in person and a further 30 would vote on-line.

However, when delegates re-assembled, he informed them that 99 delegates would vote in person and 57 would do so on-line.

He brushed aside queries about the increase in the vote and there were testy exchanged between himself and the Dutch delegate on this and other procedural issues.

There was a sweeter for the delegates at the end when it was announced that IBA are about to sign a new $2.5m annual sponsorship deal with adidas which will now supply all National Federations with gear and equipment.

But it looks like the future of amateur boxing will revolve around the IBA recently launched World series as well as internal championships rather than the Olympic Games.

This is calamitous outcome for Ireland and many other nations who depend on government funding to survive but unless boxing is on the Olympic programme, they will lose most of these funds.

The International Olympic Committee has expressed ‘concern’ at what they describe as ‘disturbing developments’ at the IBA Congress.

In a statement the IOC say their Executive Board will review the situation at its next meeting.

The full statement reads: “The IOC is extremely concerned about the Extraordinary Congress of the International Boxing Association (IBA).

“Amongst other concerns, this includes the fact that there was no election, but only a vote not to hold an election, and the fact that the recognized Ukrainian National Boxing Federation was suspended shortly before the IBA Congress for disputed reasons, and additionally the chaotic circumstances of the voting procedure.

“Following these disturbing developments, the IOC EB will have to fully review the situation at its next meeting.

“This follows previous decisions of the IOC EB, amongst them the decision to disqualify IBA from running the boxing competitions at the Olympic Games Paris 2024 as well as the boxing qualifying events for Paris 2024, and that the federation remains suspended. Boxing has also not been included in the sports programme for the Olympic Games LA28.”

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