Boxing federation calls for Russia’s return to world sport

By AFP

LAUSANNE: The International Boxing Federation (IBA) demanded on Friday that Russian and Belarusian athletes be allowed to resume international competition, banned by most organizations since the invasion of Ukraine in February.

The first body to launch such an appeal, the IBA has itself been suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 2019 for multiple corruption scandals, and risks disappearing as an Olympic sport after Paris 2024.

“Sport is outside of politics: where it begins, politics ends,” Russian IBA President Umar Kremlev said in a statement released by the federation on Friday. Boxing did not prohibit Russians and Belarusians from participating in competitions.

“The time has now come to allow all other athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in all official competitions of their sports representing their country,” he continued.

“The IOC and the International Federations must protect all athletes, and there should be no discrimination based on nationality. It is our common duty to keep sports and athletes out of politics.

In a sign of its political neutrality, the IBA said Ukrainian boxers could compete in the European Junior Championships in Italy until October 5, after suspending the Ukrainian Boxing Federation on Sunday for controversial reasons.

IOC President Thomas Bach insisted on Friday that the recommendations issued at the end of February “remain the same for the time being”, in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra.

He stressed that the decision to exclude the Russian athletes had been taken “for their safety” and to preserve the “autonomy of sport” from governments.

Since the spring, the IOC has indicated that it will “step by step” reassess its recommendations against the Russians and Belarusians, amid questions about their participation in the 2024 Olympics.

Football bodies FIFA and UEFA have banned Russian teams and clubs from their competitions, with the national team excluded from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and Euro 2024 qualifiers.

The first body to launch such an appeal, the IBA has itself been suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 2019 for multiple corruption scandals, and risks disappearing as an Olympic sport after Paris 2024.

“Sport is outside of politics: where it begins, politics ends,” Russian IBA President Umar Kremlev said in a statement released by the federation on Friday. Boxing did not prohibit Russians and Belarusians from participating in competitions.

“The time has now come to allow all other athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in all official competitions of their sports representing their country,” he continued.

“The IOC and the International Federations must protect all athletes, and there should be no discrimination based on nationality. It is our common duty to keep sports and athletes out of politics.

In a sign of its political neutrality, the IBA said Ukrainian boxers could compete in the European Junior Championships in Italy until October 5, after suspending the Ukrainian Boxing Federation on Sunday for controversial reasons.

IOC President Thomas Bach insisted on Friday that the recommendations issued at the end of February “remain the same for the time being”, in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra.

He stressed that the decision to exclude the Russian athletes had been taken “for their safety” and to preserve the “autonomy of sport” from governments.

Since the spring, the IOC has indicated that it will “step by step” reassess its recommendations against the Russians and Belarusians, amid questions about their participation in the 2024 Olympics.

Football bodies FIFA and UEFA have banned Russian teams and clubs from their competitions, with the national team excluded from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and Euro 2024 qualifiers.

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