By Karolos Grohmann
PARIS (Reuters) -The International Olympic Committee executive board on Wednesday recommended withdrawing recognition of the International Boxing Association (IBA) over its failure to meet a set of reforms, the Olympic body said in a statement.
The IOC has also decided to have the sport as part of the Olympic Games programme at Los Angeles 2028, which was confirmed in a decision proposal, seen by Reuters.
The IOC suspended the IBA in 2019 over governance, finance, refereeing and ethical issues and did not involve it in running the boxing events at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. It also provisionally excluded the sport from the Los Angeles Games.
The IOC executive board’s decision proposal, which was approved by the members, recommends the IOC Session decide “that the IBA should not organise the Olympic Games LA28 boxing tournament.”
The decision now needs the rubber-stamping of an extraordinary IOC session, to be held remotely on June 22.
The IOC has in the past removed from or included new sports in the Olympic Games programme, in order to refresh the Games and make the competitions more relevant to younger audiences.
However, stripping the recognition of a sports federation is extremely unusual.
“This decision is based on the IOC Comprehensive Report on the Situation of the IBA dated 2 June 2023, which the IOC Executive Board discussed and approved today,” the IOC said in a statement.
“The report establishes that the IBA has failed to fulfil the conditions set by the IOC… for lifting the suspension of the IBA’s recognition.”
The IBA hit back with a statement threatening “retaliatory measures” and decrying the move as “truly abhorrent and purely political”.
It said its efforts had been largely ignored and not taken into consideration by the IOC.
“We accepted the process and the rules, but in the end, we were not assessed fairly. Now, we are left with no chance but to demand a fair assessment from a competent court,” said IBA president Umar Kremlev.
The Russian said it was a “watershed moment” for all international federations and warned stripping the IBA’s recognition could set a precedent for others.
Boxing is part of the Paris 2024 Olympics but the qualifications and the competition are being run by the IOC and not by the IBA, as was the case for the Tokyo 2021 Games.
In an IBA report sent to the IOC recently, the association blamed the Olympic body for intransigence and false statements.
But the IOC had repeatedly warned the IBA, whose head since 2020 is Russian businessman Kremlev, that it had not done enough.
Other issues such as a sponsorship deal with Russian energy giant Gazprom that has since been terminated further complicated the IBA’s position, with Russia invading Ukraine last year.
The IBA’s actions have led to the creation of a breakaway group called World Boxing recently with several countries having left the IBA to join the new organisation.
The newly formed boxing body includes the United States and Britain as well as New Zealand, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden, who joined the Swiss-registered World Boxing in April.
World Boxing said it welcomed the clarity provided by the IOC statement and hailed a “very significant moment” and an opportunity for the sport to move on.
“Boxing is at a crossroads and we urge every National Federation that cares about boxers and boxing to think about how they can help to deliver a better future for the sport and support World Boxing in its efforts to keep boxing at the heart of the Olympic Movement,” it added.
(Additional reporting by Alan Baldwin,Editing by Gareth Jones, Ed Osmond and Toby Davis)
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