Mon. Dec 5th, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and International Boxing Association (AIBA) President Umar Kremlev (right) tour the newly opened International Boxing center at the Luzhniki Sports Complex in Moscow, September 10, 2022. (Photo: Gavriil Grigorov / SPUTNIK / AFP)

LONDON—The Russian-led International Boxing Association (IBA) said Wednesday it will lift the ban on amateur boxers from Russia and Belarus and allow them to compete with national flags and anthems at events, with immediate effect.

The world governing body, which is in dispute with the Olympic organizers, said its governing body voted in favor of the change.

The biggest sponsor of IBA, formerly AIBA, is Russian energy company Gazprom.

“The IBA strongly believes that politics should not have any impact on sport. Therefore, equal conditions should be provided to all athletes.

“The IBA calls for peace and remains peaceful in any conflict. In addition, the IBA has an obligation to provide equal treatment to athletes and competition officials, regardless of their nationality and residence.

“Both the Russian and Belarusian teams will be able to compete under their own flags and the national anthems will be played if they win a gold medal.

According to the decision taken, the technical officials of Russia and Belarus will also return to the competitions.”

Both countries have been banned from IBA international competitions since March, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

The IBA, led by Russian businessman Umar Kremlev, suspended Ukraine last month ahead of a meeting that voted against a new presidential election.

This came after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that Dutch federation president Boris van der Vorst had been unfairly prevented from opposing the Kremlev in May.

The IBA does not recognize Kyrylo Shevchenko as the head of the Ukrainian federation, but instead sees its president as Volodymyr Prodyvus, an ally of the Kremlin, who left Ukraine in February.

Kremlev said last week that the time had come for athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus to be allowed to compete under their own flag.

The IOC has removed the qualifying tournaments and competitions for the Paris 2024 Olympics from the IBA after it also eliminated participation in last year’s Tokyo Games due to governance, financial, refereeing and ethical issues.

Boxing was also not included in the initial schedule for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Van der Vorst said the IBA’s recent decision separated the boxing body from the Olympic movement and “did not take into account the interests of the world boxing community”.

“Contrary to IBA messages, this decision is a sanction of the Russian government’s geopolitical agenda on boxing,” he said.

“It is clear that the IBA is held hostage by the Russian leadership, and they are determined to keep the governing body under their control at all costs.”

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