How the US-Russia geopolitical battle is making boxing’s Olympic future uncertain

The first strike came after the 2016 Rio Olympics when allegations of match-fixing surfaced. The second strike came two years after he was elected president of the Governing Body, an individual accused by the United States of being involved in the international heroin trade. Now boxing is nearing his third strike.

Boxing is the only Olympic sport led by a Russian. Its sole sponsor is a Russian energy giant, most of the sport’s operations have moved from Switzerland to Russia, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is wary of Russia’s growing influence.

And in recent weeks, there has been a growing movement, especially in the United States, to form an independent international federation to “secure” boxing’s status as an Olympic sport.

What started as a battle against corruption, including match-fixing, has turned into a geopolitical battle, with popular and racially diverse sports hanging on the ropes of the Olympic rings.

What is boxing’s status at the Olympics?

As it stands, sports continue to be part of the roster. However, the IOC, on behalf of the International Boxing Association (IBA), has said it will run the tournament in the same way as the Tokyo Games.

Controversy erupted recently after the IBA said it would not compete in the Olympics without boxers present. And shortly after, in the last week of December, the IOC hinted that boxing, which was not included in the first sports list for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, could also be left out of the 2024 Paris Olympics. I was.

How did a popular sport like boxing reach a stage where the Olympic future was uncertain?

The sport was in crisis after the Rio Olympics, as an independent study commissioned by the IBA (then called AIBA) revealed.

This is the sports run by Taiwan’s Tsinghua Wu, the controversial AIBA president who stepped down in 2018 following allegations of ethical misconduct and financial mismanagement over an 11-year period. It happened when it was

After Wu resigned, Uzbekistan’s Gakhr Rakhimov was appointed president, but his election worsened the situation. Rahimov is on the U.S. Treasury Department’s sanctions list for alleged involvement in international heroin trafficking, according to the Associated Press. He resigned when he set up a task force to conduct boxing competitions in the United States.

The following year, Umar Kremlev of Russia was elected AIBA’s chairman, and the following year it changed its abbreviation to IBA as part of a rebranding process. Kremlev promised to bring about reforms within the organization and initiated the process by hiring Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, who was investigating state-sponsored doping allegations against Russia, to investigate the Rio scandal. McLaren released a report last year detailing cases of match-fixing.

If Kremlev takes these steps, why is the IOC still concerned?

The IOC has expressed “grave concerns” about the IBA’s governance and financial sustainability, as well as the integrity of its judges.

The IOC also raised eyebrows after the IBA moved its operations from Lausanne, Switzerland to Russia, except for the fact that its sole sponsor is Russian energy giant Gazprom, saying the federation is “dependent” on Russian banks. said it relied on Russian banks for its Swiss branch operations. Affected by sanctions after the war with Ukraine.

Russia Today quoted IOC sporting director Kit McConnell as saying, “The reliance on the Russian company Gazprom continues. It’s only made worse by the fact that it’s been subject to sanctions, and it hasn’t eased our reliance on one organization.”

The IBA is also the only body that went against the IOC’s recommendations and allowed Russian boxers to fight under the flag.

Who is Umar Kremlev?

The 40-year-old is a Russian businessman with close ties to President Vladimir Putin, who opened an international boxing center in Moscow with Kremlev last September. According to Le Monde, Kremlev was awarded Russia’s highest military honor, the Order of St. George, and “made his fortune not only in the taxi business, but also in construction and security”.

Kremlev was one of three Russians to head the International Federation of Olympic Sports before Ukraine invaded last year. Alisher Usmanov resigned as president of the International Fencing Federation and was added to the European Union’s sanctions list, and Italy’s Luciano Rossi narrowly defeated Russian oligarch Vladimir Lisin last November to become the International Fencing Federation’s president. became chairman. The new president of the International Shooting Sports Federation.

Members of the IBA have tried to sack Kremlev, but to no avail.

what happens next?

The IBA said it would “continue to contact senior officials of the IOC to work towards de-escalating the current development and keep LA 2028 in sight”.The IOC called for immediate reform.

It remains to be seen whether efforts to form an independent boxing federation will gain momentum.

Is there a realistic chance that boxing will actually be left out of the Olympics?

At this point, it seems like a clear possibility. Boxing has been contested in all but one Olympic Games since 1904. Boxing was not included at the Stockholm Games in 1912, as the sport was prohibited by Swedish law at the time.

The popularity of the sport, especially in the United States, could be the deciding factor compared to the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. The United States is the most successful nation in Olympic boxing history, winning a total of 117 medals, including 50 gold medals, and has produced icons such as Mohammed Ali, George Foreman and Joe Frazier.

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