IOC Talks with World Boxing to Save Boxing as Olympic Sport

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IOC's Kit McConnell (2nd from left) and Breno Pontes meeting Boris van der Vorst (3rd from left) and Simon Toulson in Lausanne (Photo: World Boxing)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) held its first formal meeting with World Boxing, the newly-established federation that seeks to preserve boxing’s place at the Olympic Games.

According to a statement from World Boxing, the meeting took place on Monday in Olympic House, the headquarters of the IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Boxing is currently not included on the programme for Los Angeles 2028. The IOC has warned that unless they are able to find a suitable international federation partner for boxing by early 2025, the sport’s position would be in jeopardy.

Boxing is included in the Paris Games this summer, with IOC administering the tournament without the assistance of an amateur boxing’s governing body. The IOC had implemented this strategy at Tokyo 2020 too, where it operated the boxing tournament.

The World Boxing statement says: “As of today, boxing is not on the Olympic programme for LA 28 which is an alarming fact for all involved in boxing.

“During the meeting, the IOC clearly indicated that the new International Federation had to be supported by a global body of National Federations and the new International Federation had to show evidence of proper governance and leadership for the sport for the IOC to consider to put boxing back on the Olympic programme of LA28.

“Currently World Boxing is the only suitable International Federation to fulfil this mandate and is grateful to the IOC for starting a formal dialogue and outlining a future pathway to keep the sport in the Olympic Games.”

The statement confirms that World Boxing will seek recognition by IOC. They plan to work ‘constructively and collaboratively’ to develop a pathway that will ‘preserve boxing’s ongoing place on the Olympic competition programme at Los Angeles 2028 and beyond.’

At Monday’s meeting, Kit McConnell, IOC’s Sports Director and Breno Pontes, Head of the Paris Boxing Unit of the IOC, met with Boris van der Vorst, World Boxing President, and Simon Toulson, Secretary General of World Boxing.

28 countries have joined World Boxing since it was established. Another 25-30 national federations are reportedly in talks to join and the federation anticipates having 50 confirmed members by the end of this year.

In 2023, the IOC formally cut ties with the International Boxing Association (IBA) over concerns regarding the association’s governance, transparency, finances and sporting integrity. 

The IOC raised concerns regarding IBA’s Russian president Umar Kremlev and his ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and IBA’s reliance on funding from Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom.

On April 2, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld the IOC’s decision to strip the IBA as a federation partner of the Olympics. 

The majority of international boxing federations continue to be members of the IBA, but with that federation no longer having any connection with the Olympics, national federations who want their boxers to participate in the Olympics will have to leave the IBA and join World Boxing before the LA Games in 2028.

“It is clearly imperative that those boxing nations interested to compete in the Olympic Games in the future need to show urgently their intent and commitment to the Olympic Games by joining World Boxing and retaining boxing at the Olympic Games. Otherwise, the loss of boxing’s Olympic status would be our worst nightmare,” said van der Vorst.

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