Boxing-Olympic organisers keep world body IBA out in the cold

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach attends the opening of the Executive Board meeting at the Olympic House in Lausanne, Switzerland, December 5, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/Pool

(Reuters) - Amateur boxing's Russian-led world body will stay shut out of the Olympics because it has yet to implement a "drastic" change of culture, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Tuesday.

The International Boxing Association (IBA) was stripped of involvement in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and boxing is not on the initial programme for the 2028 Los Angeles Games pending reforms demanded by the IOC.

Qualifying for the Paris 2024 boxing tournament is being organised by the IOC.

The IOC said its executive board (EB) had sent the IBA another letter stating why it was not ready to reverse the suspension. It said it would take a decision "at the appropriate time".

"The issue is not about the sport of boxing or boxers, but IBA and its practices and activities," the letter declared.

"While some indications concerning the reorganisation of the administration of boxing were received, there are multiple signals that the drastic change of culture requested by the IOC in order to lift the suspension of IBA’s recognition has not been implemented."

The IOC said it was acting in the best interests of boxing.

"If a decision had to be taken today regarding the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028, the IOC EB would not be able to recommend the IOC Session to include boxing in the sports programme under the authority of the IBA," it added.

"IBA has not demonstrated that it has successfully addressed the ongoing concerns around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes."

The IOC said in September that the IBA's financial dependence on Russian energy firm Gazprom, and slow-moving reforms under president Umar Kremlev, were of grave concern.

IBA announced last month that it would reverse a ban on amateur boxers from Russia and Belarus, allowing them to compete with national flags and anthems.

The IOC issued guidance to sports governing bodies in February to remove from competition athletes from Russia and Belarus, which Moscow used as a key staging area for the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

The IBA said on Tuesday it would discuss the Olympic future of the sport at a Global Boxing Forum in Abu Dhabi on Dec. 10-11.

It said it had become a "totally renewed" world governing body through "a rigorous reform process".

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis)

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