IOC set to withdraw recognition of International Boxing Association

IBA will be first sporting governing body to get Olympic ban

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has never banned an international governing body from running a sport in its 129-year history. Yet that is set to change on Thursday when an Extraordinary IOC Session votes to withdraw its recognition of the International Boxing Association (IBA) over its failure to address governance, finance and corruption concerns.

The decision is regarded as a formality given that the IOC’s executive board recommended that the IBA, which is run by the Russian Umar Kremlev, be kicked out two weeks ago.

Yet while boxing is not yet on the programme for the 2028 Los Angeles Games, it is expected to be reinstated and that the IOC is firmly behind the decision due to the social value of the sport.

Meanwhile, any hopes that IBA might be given a late reprieve were surely ended last week when Kremlev accused a former IOC member, CK Wu, who led boxing between 2006 and 2017, of being “a criminal who was killing boxing” and claimed “he should be shot”. The Russian also claimed that the IOC president, Thomas Bach, and its sports director, Kit McConnell, had joined forces with Wu to help destroy boxing.


On Tuesday, the IOC condemned those comments as “violent and threatening” and said that to attack individuals for doing their jobs was “simply unacceptable”.

The IOC initially withdrew recognition for IBA – then called Aiba – in June 2019 because of concerns over judging and refereeing, financial stability and governance. It followed a range of allegations of rigged decisions at the Rio 2016 Olympics and financial mismanagement under CK Wu, who stepped down despite denying the allegations.

Two years later the IOC did not involve it in running the boxing events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics due to its ongoing concerns over judging and governance issues, which it believes have not gone away.

In an IOC report published earlier this month, IBA was also criticised for trying to get experts it had appointed to oversee its processes, including Ernst & Young and PwC International, to sign binding non-disclosure agreements which would have made it impossible for any information to be shared.

The IOC report also claimed that there was a noticeable change in behaviour by the IBA following its congress in Abu Dhabi last December. “What were obviously initially obvious excuses to be uncooperative became open intimidation towards the IOC if it continued with the organisation of the boxing tournament at the Olympic Games Paris 2024 without the IBA’s support,” the report said.

However IBA has claimed that any decision to exclude it is “truly abhorrent and purely political”.

On Wednesday it also published a letter to IOC members from the former world champion Roy Jones Jnr, urging them to reconsider. “Despite the criticism the IBA has faced, it is hard to believe that their visible progress has gone completely unnoticed,” he wrote. “This attempt to demean boxing appears to be a poorly orchestrated political game with no ultimate winner.” – Guardian