Kremlin responds to boxing ban u-turn
The decision by the International Boxing Association (IBA) to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to competitions with their national flags and anthems has been welcomed by the Kremlin.
The IBA, which governs international amateur boxing, announced on Wednesday that its board of directors had voted to reverse a ban which was initially imposed on Russian and Belarusian boxers back in March.
In taking the step, the IBA – which is headed by a Russian president, Umar Kremlev – said it believed that “politics shouldn’t have any influence on sports.”
Commenting on Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Peskov said it was a welcome decision – but that the fight for Russian and Belarusian athletes’ rights must not abate.
“Certainly, this is very important, very positive news,” Peskov said, as quoted by TASS.
“We see that, unfortunately, so far this is a very rare example of a federation that manages to defend the interests of our athletes.
“This is not a reason to settle. On the contrary, it is additional impetus for our sports authorities to continue their efforts to defend the interests of our athletes.
“Our elite sport can and should have the right to compete in international competitions, we must fight for it,” added the spokesman for President Vladimir Putin.
By removing its ban but also allowing the return of the Russian and Belarusian flags and anthems at its tournament, the IBA has made itself something of an outlier in world sport.
Athletes from Russia and Belarus remain sidelined across a wide variety of other sports because of the conflict in Ukraine, following an International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommendation at the end of February.
Somewhat predictably, the lifting of the IBA ban on Russia and Belarus was met with anger in Ukraine – including from former world heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko.
Klitschko accused the IBA of “knocking itself out” and “trampling on humanistic and universal values,” as he issued a furious social media message.
Last month, the IBA took the step of suspending the Boxing Federation of Ukraine (FBU) for government interference in its affairs.