New chapter in the conflict between the IBA and the IOC: Boxing presented its own classification system for Paris 2024

This news comes after the IOC Executive Board decided that the boxing qualifying events and competitions for Paris 2024 would not be held under the authority of the International Boxing Association.

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Boxing - Men's Super Heavyweight - Quarterfinal
Boxing - Men's Super Heavyweight - Quarterfinal

Last June, the IOC Executive Board announced that, after several irregularities in the administration and arbitration system and IBA judges that date back to 2019, the boxing authorities will not be able to be part of neither the settlement nor the organization of the qualifying competitions for the 2024 Olympic Games. The same thing happened in Tokyo 2020. Faced with this, the IBA made itself heard.

It was in September that the International Olympic Committee presented a new direct classification system, which was rejected by the IBA because they considered them to be “late changes” and that do not bring clarity to the athletes in question. This system consists of classification through regional multi-sport games: the Pan American Games in Santiago, the European Games in Krakow, the Pacific Games in Honiara and the Asian Games in Hangzhou, all in 2023.

Part of the statement published by the IBA yesterday states that although “they reiterate their willingness to cooperate with the IOC for the benefit of boxing, its athletes and the stability and quality of the product of the Olympic Games, they will not accept any other qualification process for Paris 2024 other than the following: the Women’s World Boxing Championship, the Men’s World Boxing Championship and the last open event with the last qualifying opportunity that will take place in May 2024.”

The conflict between the two entities is not new. In 2019, the IOC decided to separate the International Boxing Association from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. To this day, the IOC maintains this position for what would be the Paris Games and the inclusion of this sport in the Los Angeles 2028 program has yet to be defined.

This firm stance was reaffirmed in December 2022 during a press conference held in Lausanne. There, a letter sent by the IOC to the IBA was read in which it was reported that there has been no will to implement a “drastic change of culture”, which would allow lifting the sanction it has maintained since then for these irregularities.

In this letter, the IOC states that “the topic is not the sport of boxing or boxers, but the IBA and its practices and activities”. It also said that, “IBA has not demonstrated that it has successfully addressed current concerns about its governance, its transparency and financial sustainability, and the integrity of its arbitration and evaluation processes.”

The IBA’s response was merciless. It treated this resolution as an “attack” against athletes. It also accused the IOC of acting for political and nationality reasons.

Pro boxing demonstration meeting in Lausanne
Pro boxing demonstration meeting in Lausanne

As if that were not enough, the IBA also assured that the qualifying competitions will be open to “any athlete or coach who wants to participate” including Russians and Belarusians.

“We want to give everyone the right to compete without being victims of the political games of a few national federations,” said in this latest statement. This statement comes in the middle of the debate on whether Russian and Belarusian athletes should be readmitted to international competitions and, ultimately, to the Paris Games, in any case under a neutral flag.

Something like that was to be expected since the president of the International Boxing Association is Umar Kremlev, a Russian sports official, re-elected as the highest boxing authority in 2022.

Umar Kremlev at AIBA presser in Lausanne on June 28 (AIBA)
Umar Kremlev at AIBA presser in Lausanne on June 28 (AIBA)

“The announcement of the IBA OQS [Olympic qualification system] for Paris 2024 is a necessary step to protect our athletes, since the classification process proposed by the IOC, which consists of a competition, is not acceptable or fair to athletes,” the statement concludes.

All that remains is to wait for the IOC’s response to this decision and see how the relationship between the two entities develops towards what will be the Paris Games. One thing is clear; this story will add many more chapters and none of them will want to fall without a fight.