IOC slams door on IBA regaining Olympic status while reaffirming boxing's participation in Olympics till 2028

Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, has slammed the door on the prospect of the long-standing amateur governing body, the International Boxing Association (IBA, formerly AIBA) being reinstated back into the Olympic movement.

In June, the IOC took the unprecedented step of expelling the IBA from being an associated organisation of the Olympic movement. The reasons cited were tenfold and were centred around governance, lack of transparency into the workings of the governing body, financing, and the credibility of its tournaments, which act as qualifiers for the Olympic games.

In recent years, the IOC has taken the mantle of organising qualifying events for the Olympic games following concerns of officiating, which took place at the 2016 Olympic Games held in Rio De Janeiro and handed the IBA a suspension from handling qualifiers alongside administrating the Olympic boxing tournament at the Tokyo 2020 games.

The relationship between the IBA and the IOC has soured and deteriorated following the 2019 decision to suspend the IBA. The pattern of deterioration has continued under Umar Kremlev’s presidency following his decision to reverse suspensions on Russian and Belarussian boxers following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

In recent weeks, IBA president Kremlev has criticised the IOC further for their administration and officiating at the 2022 Asian Games held in Hangzhou, China. Kremelv stated that he had ‘received a number of complaints’ regarding the officiating at the tournament.

Bach, who was in Mumbai, India, chairing the IOC’s latest general meeting of associations, fired back at Kremlev and said that the IOC’s case against the IBA is ‘closed.’

“With the IBA there’s no ongoing process, for us the case is closed,” he said before the IOC Session in Mumbai and reported by the Indian Express.

“There will be no boxing with IBA in the Olympic programme.

“It’s done.

“Full stop.

“We gave them four years. They have not met the conditions set by us.

“The way they’re expressing themselves now, and they’re behaving gives no hope that there will be an improvement.”

Bach further added that the IBA’s governance and financial situation is ‘getting worse’ and that its judging and officiating are ‘not up to the standard expected that you would expect from an Olympic sport.’

However, despite concerns about boxing’s future as an Olympic Sport, Bach has reassured the public and national Olympic associations that boxing will remain on the programme until at least the Los Angeles 2028 games. As previously reported, a special task force appointed and led by the IOC oversees the Olympic boxing tournament and qualifiers but has admitted that this practice cannot last forever.

“We cannot do this forever,” he added.

“This is why I guess the result of these meetings here will be that boxing will remain hanging.

“We want to have it, but you have to find a way, how and with whom.”

Several national amateur boxing associations, including USA Boxing and GB Boxing, split from the IBA to form the newly founded amateur governing body, World Boxing. The organisation aims to ultimately become the official governing body of the amateur code of the sport and become an approved member of the IOC. However, World Boxing currently has sixteen member associations, but that number is expected to grow.

Bach warned World Boxing still has work to do to secure recognition from the IOC.

“It’s too early,” he commented.

“I don’t know if they even have 20 Member Federations with them.

“At the moment, they don’t have sufficient global representation.

“Once they’re making progress there, we’re ready to look into other issues like governance is in order, elections are happening democratically etc.

“At the moment, it’s up to them to organise themselves.”