by Hritika Sharma
(MAINNEWS) – The Russian-led International Boxing Association’s (IBA’s) announcement that its world championships are qualifiers for the 2024 Olympics is “false and misleading” and an attempt to sabotage qualification for the Paris Games, USA Boxing said.
Eight countries, including the United States, are boycotting the upcoming women’s and men’s world championships in New Delhi and Tashkent after the IBA allowed boxers from Russia and Belarus to compete with their national flags and anthems.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has removed the IBA from the Paris qualification process due to governance and other issues but the suspended body has said both championships will be the “main qualification events” for next year’s Games.
USA Boxing executive director Mike McAtee described the announcement as “totally unacceptable” in a statement on Monday and clarified that the championships as well as other IBA tournaments are not qualifying events for the Olympics.
“USA Boxing condemns in the strongest possible terms this attempt by IBA to confuse boxers from around the world, knowing full well that IBA is not associated with the International Olympic Committee nor the IOC’s published qualification system,” McAtee said.
The IOC is organising qualifiers for the Paris Games.
Boxing is not on the initial programme for the 2028 Los Angeles Games, pending reforms demanded by the IOC, which warned in December that it might also have to consider cancelling the Paris programme.
The IBA was suspended by the IOC in 2019 and stripped of involvement in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics due to governance, finance, refereeing and ethical issues.
“IBA is, at best, incompetent. At worst, USA Boxing believes this may be an attempt to sabotage the Olympic qualification for the Paris Olympic Games,” the statement added.
“IBA does not have any constitutional authority regarding qualification generally.”
On Sunday, Switzerland and the Netherlands joined the United States, Ireland, Britain, Czech Republic, Sweden and Canada in boycotting the women’s world championships to be held in New Delhi, India’s capital, over March 15-26.
Boxing Federation of India President Arun Malik described the boycott as “a disappointing trend”.
“We are in touch with most of the national federations and that will be our endeavour going forward. We will be reaching out to them, trying to convince them to come to India,” Malik told the Times of India newspaper on Tuesday.
“For the boxers, it’s their chance to compete with the best in the world. We have been regularly communicating with the IBA and hope that the end results will be good.”
A qualification system approved by the IOC last September established direct qualification through regional multi-sport competitions. Two world qualification tournaments are also planned for 2024.
The IBA has said athletes from boycotting nations can register directly for its championships and has offered to help fund them.