Boxing federation calls for Russian, Belarussian athletes to return to world sport

IOC President Thomas Bach insisted that the recommendations made regarding Russian, Belarussian athletes, 'remained the same for the moment.'

Agence France-Presse October 01, 2022 09:47:37 IST
Boxing federation calls for Russian, Belarussian athletes to return to world sport

File image of the Russian national flag (right) flying next to the Olympic flag during the Closing Ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. AP Photo

Lausanne, Switzerland: The International Boxing Federation (IBA) on Friday demanded that Russian and Belarusian athletes be allowed to return to international competition, having been banned by most organisations since the invasion of Ukraine in February.

The first body to launch such an appeal, the IBA has itself been suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 2019 for multiple corruption scandals, and risks disappearing as an Olympic sport after Paris 2024.

“Sports is out of politics: where it begins, politics ends,” the IBA’s Russian president Umar Kremlev said in a statement issued by the federation on Friday. Boxing has not barred Russians and Belarussians from competitions.

“The time has now come to allow all the rest of the athletes of Russia and Belarus to participate in all the official competitions of their sports representing their countries,” he continued.

“Both the IOC and the International Federations must protect all athletes, and there should be no discrimination based on nationality. It is the duty of all of us to keep sports and athletes away from politics.”

As a sign of its political neutrality the IBA said that Ukrainian boxers could participate in the European Junior Championships in Italy until 5 October, after suspending the Ukrainian Boxing Federation on Sunday for controversial reasons.

IOC President Thomas Bach on Friday insisted that the recommendations made at the end of February “remained the same for the moment”, in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra.

He pointed out that the decision to exclude Russian athletes had been taken “for their safety” and to preserve “the autonomy of sport” from governments.

Since the spring, the IOC has indicated that it will reassess “step by step” its recommendations against the Russians and Belarusians, amid questions on their participation in the 2024 Olympics.

Football bodies FIFA and UEFA have excluded Russian teams and clubs from their competitions, with the national team banned from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and from the Euro 2024 qualifying.

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