Boxing has been part of the Olympic program since 1904 but the run might come to an end, following the IBA's decision not to hold elections.
Boxing has been part of the Olympic program since 1904 and combat sports were part of the Ancient Olympic Games. Still, the run might come to an end, following the IBA’s (International Boxing Association) decision to not hold Presidential elections.

The IBA (previously known as AIBA) was banned from organizing the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games boxing competitions and a Task Force was appointed instead. There were several reasons for this, but the main one was a series of corruption scandals.

In June, the International Olympic Committee made it clear that IBA would not be allowed to run the Paris 2024 tournament wither. Moreover, boxing has provisionally not been included in the Olympic program for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Ángeles.

The same month, The Court of Arbitration for Sport (TAS/CAS) ruled that Boris van der Vorst (NED), President of the Dutch Boxing Federation, should have been allowed to run for Presidency, after incumbent Russian President, Umar Kremlev, allowed him to run against him.

Last Sunday, IBA held an Extraordinary Congress in Yerevan to touch upon this issue. According to Insidethegames, the overwhelming majority of delegates supported Kremlev’s continuation, with simplistic arguments along the lines of “not allowing other bodies to rule for them” or “progress than had been made, especially in smaller countries”.

For outsiders not involved in the day-to-day activities of the governing body, it is unclear whether it is true that progress has been made. It has been reported that Adidas will jump onboard with a slight 2.5 Million USD sponsorship but the body reportedly still relies on Russian company Gazprom, which has been subjected to international sanctions due to their ties with their nation’s government and its respective invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine has indeed been suspended by IBA following its representative’s statements to suspend Kremlev for alleged state interference by Russia. While this has not been substantiated, it has been reported that Kremlev is dispatching from Moscow and has virtually centralized activities to Moscow from Lausanne, Switzerland, where the majority of Olympic sports federations are headquartered.

At the conclusion of the Congress, the IOC told Insidethegamesthat “The IOC is extremely concerned about the Extraordinary Congress of the International Boxing Association…Amongst other concerns, this includes the fact that there was no election, but only a vote not to hold an election, and the fact that the recognised Ukrainian National Boxing Federation was suspended shortly before the IBA Congress for disputed reasons, and additionally the chaotic circumstances of the voting procedure.”

While such a statement does not mean for a fact that boxing will not be part of the 2028 Olympic program, its chances are even more meager than before. It is a shame for such a global sport.

Even under a scenario that Kremlev has been a good President so far since taking office in December 2020, if there was such overwhelming support for him, then at least Congress could have taken the strategically better option of holding elections and showing support for him. Instead, they are contravening the international sports law system and are increasing their alienation in the constellation of international sports federations.