Boxing chief wants ‘dangerous’ Russian ban removed
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should remove its recommendation for a ban on Russian athletes and keep politics out of sport, according to International Boxing Association (IBA) president Umar Kremlev.
The Russian official released a statement on the IBA’s website on Wednesday in which he urged the IOC “to listen to the athletes’ needs.”
Following the launch of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, the IOC issued a recommendation to ban Russian and Belarusian teams and athletes from international competitions – a call which has been heeded by a multitude of sports federations.
According to Kremlev, the time has come for the IOC to “reconsider its approach to all athletes” and recommend that the ban be lifted.
“IBA has made the first step towards equal opportunities and fairness,” said Kremlev, whose own organization removed its ban on Russian and Belarusian boxers earlier this month.
“IBA will keep doing everything for the sake of its athletes and coaches, we have to create conditions, not deteriorate them.
“I would like to reiterate that sports are out of politics. We should have nothing in common with the games of politicians all around the world,” Kremlev added.
“The decision to exclude some of them based on their nationality is against the principles of the Olympic movement, it damages all sports.
“I urge the IOC to open the window for the athletes to keep performing, and I urge changing the policy that excludes athletes.
“I would like to address all international sports world: let all the athletes compete. They are not political tools, they are those who suffer from political decisions. They didn’t deserve that they are treated so badly by the entire sports environment.”
Kremlev said that politicians are “doing their job to promote their interests,” which means that sports chiefs “must do our job to secure our athletes and sports” – describing the current situation as “dangerous.”
“The sports world is blocked by politicians and, unfortunately, is losing its autonomy. There should be no political games behind the athletes’ backs,” Kremlev insisted.
“It’s dangerous for the future of sports. The IOC must rectify the situation immediately. All athletes should be given a green light, as they are not guilty of anything.”
Kremlev’s statement comes after IOC president Thomas Bach recently suggested that Russian athletes might be allowed back into the international fold if they denounce their country’s military operation in Ukraine.
Officials at the IBA, which governs international amateur boxing, voted in favor of overturning a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes last week, also allowing them to return to competitions with their national flags and anthems.
The move has seen boxing authorities in Sweden and elsewhere threaten to boycott IBA events.
Kremlev recently reaffirmed his position as IBA chief at a congress in Yerevan, Armenia, where members voted against holding a fresh presidential election.
The IOC revealed it was “extremely concerned about the situation in the federation” to Reuters.
“Amongst other concerns this includes the fact that the recognized Ukrainian National Boxing Federation was suspended shortly before the IBA Congress for disputed reasons,” it added.
The IBA previously temporarily suspended Ukraine’s boxing federation due to government federation.
The IBA is at a critical point in its history with boxing left off the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics’ initial program.
At Tokyo 2020, an IOC Boxing Task Force oversaw the sport and will do so at Paris 2024, while the IOC has ordered the IBA to bring in swift reforms.