IBA boss: Russia, Belarus boxers should compete

Russia and Belarus athletes should be able to compete under their flag, said International Boxing Association (IBA) President, Umar Kremlev on Friday.

The IBA lifted a ban on Russian and Belarusian boxers last October, against the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) guidance fol­lowing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, last year.

“They should participate. It should not be some kind of privi­lege that is given depending on the circumstances. Each international association should have these stan­dards,” Kremlev told Reuters.

“We, as an international associ­ation, must protect each athlete. And we must understand that for athletes the most important thing is when the anthem plays and when their country’s flag is raised”.

“The IOC can give recommen­dations. Their charter clearly says that it is impossible to punish the athlete, or to infringe on his rights.”

The IBA has opened disciplinary proceedings against a total of 11 countries over their planned boy­cott of the world championships due to the inclusion of Russian and Belarusian boxers.

Kremlev disciplinary actions targets USA Boxing CEO, Mike McAtee, President of Boxing Canada Ryan O’Shea, Czech Box­ing Association President, Marek Simak, Swedish Boxing Association Chairman Per-Axel Sjoholm and Boxing New Zealand President, Steve Hartley.

“We have a clear regulation regarding this. If someone plans to boycott or something like that, they will face a disciplinary committee,” Kremlev added.

“No sports official has the right to set the athlete’s (country) bor­ders. If you do that (condemn the war), then you can participate.”

Last year, the IOC raised the possibility of excluding boxing from the Paris 2024 Games. The IBA was stripped of its participa­tion in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and boxing is not on the initial programme for the Los Angeles 2028 Games, pending IOC-man­dated reforms.

“Without us, the IBA would no longer do boxing. And scaring the IBA and the boxing family in general with the threat that boxing could be excluded – if that hap­pened the Olympics should not see it as just losing boxing, but losing the most beautiful sport,” Kremlev said. —Reuters

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