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Boycott threats

Russia’s potential inclusion in global competition is causing boycotts in various sports. Boxing is the latest.

The Czech Republic, Canada, Sweden and Great Britain have threatened to boycott the International Boxing Assocation (IBA) World Championships if Russia is permitted to compete at the men’s and women’s championships, which will take place March 15 to 26 in New Delhi, and from May 1 to 14 in Tachkent, Uzbekistan, respectively. The threats have Olympic implications.

Russia has been banned from the Olympics by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and World Athletics has banned them since 2015 for systematic doping. Further bans and boycotts are related to the illegal war in Ukraine, however, boxing has a whole other reason to boycott. Apparently, there is discussion that president Vladmir Putin has close ties to the president of the IBA. Language around the relationship by national governing bodies reference corruption and bribery.

In a joint statement, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia accused the IOC of advancing special exemptions to allow Russia and Belarus to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

Last week it was suggested that athletes from Russia and Belarus can compete as neutral, as they did in Tokyo under the name ROC, which is short for Russian Olympic Committee. What’s the point?

Russia’s ban was superflous as a delegation of 335 attended the Tokyo Olympics and proceeded to win a total of 71 medals including 20 gold, 28 silver and 23 bronze. Gold medallists were not permitted to stand for the Russian national anthem titled Patrioticheskaya Pesnya (The Patriotic Song). The Russian flag, Flag Rossii, or the State Flag of the Russian Federation. Athletes competed under the Russian Olympic Committee flag. At the end of the day, Russia’s presence was full on in Tokyo.

The mayor of Paris speaks

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, France said that she does not want a Russian delegation at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games while the country wages war in Ukraine.

“As long as Russia continues to wage war on Ukraine, I don’t want there to be a Russian delegation at the Paris 2024 Games.

“I would find that indecent.

“It is not possible to parade as if nothing had happened, to have a delegation come to Paris, while the bombs continue to rain down on Ukraine,” she said.

Other European nations protest

Meanwhile, the Minister of Youth and Sports of Ukraine, Vadym Guttsait, is considering a boycott of Paris if Russia and Belarus are to be present.

Other European leaders have stepped up to issue warnings about their participation. For example, Minister of Sports of Austria, Werner Kogler, agreed that he is not in favour of Russia and Belarus’s participation in any way. The Olympic committees from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden wrote to the IOC to indicate they also oppose Russian and Belarusian participation in Paris.

In addition to the war and the alleged corruption in boxing, Russia harbours a general culture of cheating. Their systematic doping came to a head at the Sochi Winter Games, however, there is evidence of a long tradition of drug cheating. The illegal war only adds to its status as persona non grata on the global sporting stage.

It was announced earlier this week that six more Russians have been approved for neutral status.

The latest threats of boycotts in international competition are gaining momentum; it’s perhaps the thin edge of the wedge between Russia and Belarus and the rest of the world. This will not end well if Russia is included in any global competitions for reasons related to systematic doping, the illegal war in Ukraine and alleged corruption and bribery specifically in boxing. That’s a lot.