Boxing bosses reverse Russian ban
The International Boxing Association (IBA) has voted to overturn a ban imposed on boxers from Russia and Belarus, the organization has announced.
The IBA, which governs amateur boxing, joined numerous international sporting federations in imposing sanctions on sportspeople from both Russia and Belarus following the beginning of Russia’s military operation Ukraine earlier this year.
However, the IBA stated on Wednesday that it has reversed the suspension, adding that it believed politics and sport should not be mixed.
It also stated that boxers from both countries will be fully entitled to compete under their own national flags and anthems.
“IBA Board of Directors voted in favor to cancel its previous decision and allow boxers of Russia and Belarus to compete at the IBA events with immediate effect,” read a statement published on the IBA's official website.
“The IBA strongly believes that politics shouldn’t have any influence on sports. Hence, all athletes should be given equal conditions.
“Respecting its own autonomy as the international sports federation, the IBA shall remain politically neutral and independent.
“IBA calls for peace and remains a peacemaker in any conflicts. Moreover, the IBA has obligation to ensure equal treatment towards the athletes and competition officials, regardless of their nationality and residence.
“According to the decision, the technical officials of Russia and Belarus will also be back in the competitions.”
The change in approach comes following a March 4 declaration from the IBA in which it said that it would adopt recommendations from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to restricts the rights of boxers from Russia and Belarus, as well as technical staff from those countries.
It wrote at the time: “IBA is completely committed to putting sport at the service of the peaceful development of humanity. Consistent with these commitments, the IBA Board also offered its full support for measures aimed at helping the Ukrainian boxers.”
But there appeared to be an indication of an upcoming policy change in late September when IBA president Umar Kremlev, who is a Russian national, said that the “time had come” for Russians and Belarusians to once again compete under their own flags at international events.
“The time has now come to allow all the rest of the athletes of Russia and Belarus to participate in all the official competitions of their sports representing their countries,” Kremlev said last month.
“Both the IOC and the International Federations must protect all athletes, and there should be no discrimination based on nationality.
“It is the duty of all of us to keep sports and athletes away from politics.
“The IBA and I personally are ready to follow such a joint initiative, and I call on everyone to rise to the occasion and leave our athletes out of politics.”
Kremlev’s September statement came days after he was backed in a leadership challenge at the IBA’s Extraordinary Congress in Yerevan, Armenia, where IBA members voted against holding a fresh presidential election.