IBA-IOC slugfest will affect the boxers most

February 21, 2023 07:02 pm | Updated 07:02 pm IST - KOLKATA:

The ongoing slugfest between the International Boxing Association (IBA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will affect the boxers the most, according to some accomplished pugilists of the country.

The tussle between the IBA, sponsored by a Russian State-owned company, and the IOC touched a new high with the former, in a show of defiance, took upon itself to release its own Olympic qualification system on grounds of “numerous delays on a clear IOC process” for Paris 2024 qualification.

The IBA, which has been suspended from the second consecutive Olympics by the IOC for various irregularities, said its system “was approved by the IOC Executive Board on April 1, 2022.”

The international federation made the announcement even as growing number nations, including the USA, Britain, Ireland, Czech Republic, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Poland, pulled out of the World women’s boxing championships in Delhi next month due to the IBA’s decision to allow Russian and Belarusian boxers to compete under their own flags despite these countries’ war against Ukraine.

Whereas the IOC did not to recognise the IBA events, including the World Championships, as Olympic qualifiers, the IBA said the World Championships in New Delhi (women) and Tashkent (men) would be the main qualifying events for Paris 2024.

The IOC went on record, saying only the system approved by its Executive Board in September last would be followed for Olympic qualification and the IBA remained suspended.

Top Indian boxers said the athletes would be the biggest losers because of the chaotic situation.

World and Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh said, “The boxers are not at fault and they should not suffer due to a battle between two international bodies. They should resolve the issue for the greater good of boxing and the boxers.”

Sarita Devi, a former World champion, had a similar opinion. “Such a fight will spoil the boxers’ preparation and stop them from competing in elite events.

“Sports and politics should be separated to maintain discipline, the foundation of all sports. Boxing is losing out and everybody should work to keep boxers’ Olympic dream alive,” said Sarita.

World Cup bronze medallist V. Devarajan said the IBA-IOC fight would harm boxing, which is missing from the initial list of 2028 Olympics.

“There is a good chance that boxing will be sacrificed from the Olympics due to this duel. They should resolve this issue in order to retain one of the oldest disciplines in the Olympics,” said Devarajan.

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