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Ukraine joins world boxing championship boycott

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KYIV: Ukraine’s boxing federation (FBU) has joined a growing boycott of the amateur world championships over the inclusion of Russian and Belarusian boxers, who have been allowed to compete with national flags and anthems.

FBU vice president Oleg Ilchenko told public broadcaster Suspline on Wednesday that their boxers would not compete in this year’s men’s and women’s championships, which will be held in New Delhi and Tashkent, respectively.

Both competitions are organised by the International Boxing Association (IBA), led by Russian Umar Kremlev. The United States, Ireland and Britain are among nine other federations that have boycotted the women’s event, while several have also pulled out of the men’s tournament.

The IBA lifted a ban on Russian and Belarusian boxers competing under their flags last October, against the International Olympic Committee’s guidance following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago, for which Belarus was a key staging area.

“Our answer is clear — our athletes and representatives of the Boxing Federation of Ukraine do not compete where representatives of the aggressor countries, namely Russia and Belarus, will compete,” Ilchenko said.

Ukraine’s boxers would also boycott next year’s Olympic Games in Paris if Russian and Belarusian boxers are present, Ilchenko said.

“As long as the war is going on and as Russian troops are on the territory of our country … they will not participate,” he said.

Despite being removed from the Paris qualification process due to governance and other issues, the IBA has said both championships will be “main qualification events” for 2024 — a decision condemned by USA Boxing as “false and misleading”.

The IOC suspended the IBA in 2019 and stripped it of involvement in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics due to governance, finance, refereeing and ethical issues.

Qualifying for Paris is being organised by the IOC.

The sport’s Olympic future remains uncertain. 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.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2023


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