The vote was 69-1, with 10 members abstaining.
“We highly value the sport of boxing. We have an extremely serious problem with IBA because of their governance,” IOC President Thoms Bach told IOC members during their online meeting. “The boxers fully deserve to be governed by an international federation with integrity and transparency,” Bach said.
Boxing at the 20204 Olympic Summer Games in Paris will be organized by the IOC, which was the case at the 2020 Games in Tokyo. Boxing has been on the Olympic program since 1920 but the IOC had indicated boxing could be in danger of losing its position at the 2028 Games in Los Angeles until confirming its place on the program on Thursday.
“We appreciate boxing as one of the most global sports. We embrace the values of boxing,” Bach said, praising the sport’s “important social role promoting inclusion.”
The outcome was virtually assured after the IBA’s 400-page report was published recently, which said “the IBA strongly believes that it meets all necessary criteria to be a part of the Olympic movement.” The report also made clear the IBA’s true feelings, saying it offered to talk with the IOC and “all these requests have been disrespectfully ignored,” and “withdrawal of the IBA’s full recognition by the IOC will be not justified, fair and legally correct decision.”
And true to form, the IBA’s response to Thursday’s vote referenced the anniversary of Nazi Germany attacking the Soviet Union, calling the IOC vote “catastrophic for global boxing and blatantly contradicts the IOC’s claims of acting in the best interests of boxing and athletes.”
The IBA is run by Umar Kremlev, who has close ties to Russia President Vladimir Putin; since Kremlev’s reign began in 2017, the IBA has essentially been bankrolled by Russian interests, although Kremlev said earlier this year the IBA no longer has Russian energy giant Gazprom as a sponsor. The IBA allowed boxers from Russia and Belarus to compete with their national flags and anthems during its world championships earlier this year — which the IBA claimed were the qualifiers for the 2024 Olympics.
During the world championships, Kremlev spent close to two hours both signaling a willingness to work with the IOC while adding “I’m sure (the IOC) don’t like me” because he refused to perform a vulgar act not useful to this website to describe. Kremlev last week accused a former IOC member, CK Wu, who led the IBA from 2006 through 2017, of being “a criminal who was killing boxing” and claimed “he should be shot,” comments the IOC condemned as “violent and threatening.”
The IBA-IOC fight has been heightened over the recent formation of World Boxing, which says it will seek recognition from the IOC. A collection of boxing leaders from across the world announced the creation of World Boxing in early April to ensure that boxing remains a part of future Olympic Summer Games and is the formal breakaway for many international federations from the IBA.
USA Boxing ended its membership with the IBA in late April to join World Boxing, the first national governing body to do so; since USA Boxing’s announcement, SwissBoxing has left the IBA for World Boxing with the national governing bodies in both the Netherlands and New Zealand exploring a move.
Kremlev has attacked the organizers of World Boxing, calling them “like hyenas, like predators, they need to understand that they do not belong to sport.” The IBA did make one administrative move this week, firing George Yerolimpos as secretary general and chief executive; Yerolimpos was named “permanent” secretary general and chief executive in September.
Olympic boxing has had a tainted reputation for decades, typified by notorious judging at the 1988 Seoul Games that denied American light-middleweight Roy Jones Jr. the gold medal against home fighter Park Si-hun. There were allegations ahead of the 2012 London Olympics of cash deals planned to fix medals, and further doubt cast by fighters on the integrity of bouts at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. At those Olympics, the president of boxing’s governing body was Wu, of Taiwan. After Wu was ousted by boxing officials in 2017, the sport’s problems with the IOC intensified.