Tuesday, March 21, 2023

IBA advises Delhi universes as Paris Olympics qualifier, adds to turmoil

Boxing’s world body, suspended by International Olympic Committee since 2019, has said all finalists at the Delhi World Championships will be awarded Olympic berth, which could further fuel the standoff

The women’s boxing World Championships scheduled in New Delhi from March 15 will be a qualification event for the Paris Olympics, the International Boxing Association (IBA) announced on Monday, adding to the growing chaos surrounding Olympic qualification in boxing.

The move might escalate the simmering tension between IBA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which rejected the world body’s qualification pathway last year and took over the organising and conduct of boxing qualification and competition for Paris 2024. The IOC executive board approved a different qualification model, excluding IBA events.

The boxing body remains suspended by IOC since 2019 over governance issues and alleged ‘corruption and manipulation of bouts’. The Tokyo Olympics qualification was organised by a task force of IOC.

IBA, under its new Russian president Umar Kremlev, says it has adopted several administrative reforms and put in place a system to streamline refereeing and judging. The IOC is not yet convinced. The row has left in danger boxing’s continuation in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

The last few months has seen IOC and IBA engaged in a war of words. The situation has worsened for IBA in the last one week with many countries pulling out of the Delhi worlds over its decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under their national flags despite Russia’s war in Ukraine still on, as well as raising concerns over how IBA is being run under Kremlev.

USA was the first to pull out of both the men’s and women’s World Championships, followed by Britain, Ireland, Czech Republic, Poland, Canada, Switzerland and Netherlands.

IBA, staring at an internal revolt, has called the boycott ‘political’ and reached out to individual boxers from these countries, urging them to compete and assuring financial support. It has opened the event for direct registration of participants

“IBA has declared its utmost commitment to doing whatever possible including financial aid through its Financial Support Program (FSP) to ensure that all boycotting National Federation athletes are able to fight for glory and achieve their dream of becoming a World Champion.” IBA said in a statement.

On Monday, IBA made the worlds its main qualifying event for Paris, a move that could further fuel the standoff with IOC. “The IBA has taken upon itself as the international governing body of boxing to provide a clear process and pathway for its athletes to qualify for Paris 2024.” it said.

It said the IBA Olympic Qualification System (OQS) was approved by the IOC Executive Board in April last year. The qualification cycle will run from January 1, 2023 to May 31, 2024. Besides the World Championships, the continental championships, Golden Belt Series and a world qualification event will also be qualifying events.

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