The International Olympic Committee on Thursday withdrew its recognition of boxing’s governing body, the International Boxing Association, but said the sport would be on the programme at the 2024 and 2028 Games in Paris and Los Angeles.
The IOC executive board voted by 69 votes to one, with 10 abstentions, to expel the IBA from the Olympic Movement in a seismic move for the sport.
However, the IBA hit back with a strongly-worded statement, comparing their expulsion to Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.
The IOC’s decision brings to an end four years of sparring between the Olympic body and the under-fire custodians of a sport that has appeared at every Games since 1904.
The IBA was suspended by the IOC in 2019 for multiple corruption scandals.
The IBA, whose president is Umar Kremlev of Russia, has also come under attack for its governance, financial transparency and sustainability.
“The IOC has constantly and patiently tried to help in the three areas of concern,” IOC director general Christophe De Kepper said at the Olympic body’s session in Lausanne.
“There has been a constant lack of drastic revolution throughout the many years. It is a situation of no return.”
De Kepper added: “The IBA was unable to provide the elements to allow the lifting of its suspension.
“It is not possible to reach any other conclusion than agree with the IOC’s analysis. The only conclusion is to withdraw recognition.”
– Olympic place guaranteed –
The IOC has put in place the Paris Boxing Unit to ensure qualification and hosting of the sport at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
De Kepper said he “guarantees” boxing will also be on the programme for the Los Angeles Games in 2028.
The IBA accused the IOC of making a “tremendous error” which revealed “its true politicised nature”.
“It is noteworthy that on this very day, 82 years ago, fascist Germany launched an attack on the peaceful citizens of the Soviet Union, resulting in the escalation of war and a devastating human tragedy,” the IBA said in a statement published on its official website.
“We cannot conceal the fact that today’s decision is catastrophic for global boxing and blatantly contradicts the IOC’s claims of acting in the best interests of boxing and athletes.”
IOC chief Thomas Bach, who is German, told the session that “we have an extremely serious problem with the IBA”.
“We do not have a problem with boxing. We do not have a problem with boxers,” Bach said.
“If we had a problem with boxers there would not have been a competition in Tokyo. There would be no boxing competition in Paris.”
Bach added: “We highly value the sport of boxing but unfortunately we have an extremely serious problem with the IBA because of their governance.
“Because we value the sport of boxing so much, we believe the boxers fully deserve to be governed by an international federation with integrity and transparency.”
The IBA’s major backer has been Russian energy giant Gazprom in a deal worth a reported $50 million.
The IBA, in contrast to many other international sports bodies, continue to allow athletes from Russia and its political ally Belarus to compete under their own flags despite last year’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Women’s World Boxing Championships in India last month went ahead with several nations boycotting the event because of the IBA’s policy.
Boxing only went ahead in the Covid-delayed Tokyo Olympics after the IOC stepped in to ensure the qualification criteria.