— Published 13 June 2023

To save its future, the IBA appeals to CAS

The Olympic boxing soap opera picks up speed. It is also inviting a new player. According to a source “close to the matter“, quoted by Reuters, the International Boxing Federation (IBA) will not let the IOC withdraw its recognition without putting on the gloves one last time. The body chaired by Russian Umar Kremlev has reportedly already taken the decision to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

At this stage, however, the IBA’s move remains purely hypothetical. The withdrawal of its recognition by the IOC has not yet been formalized. It was recommended by the Executive Board at the beginning of June. However, the final decision will be taken by the Olympic body’s session, which is due to hold an exceptional remote meeting on Thursday June 22.

There is little doubt that the session will vote in favor of the executive committee’s proposal. It rarely deviates from it. And it is unlikely to do so in the case of boxing, a discipline whose governance annoys the Olympic movement to no end.

As a reminder, the IOC Session did not lift a finger to oppose the suspension of AIBA, now IBA, decided by the IOC in June 2019. Barring an improbable turn of events, it will maintain the same course of action at the end of next week, when the IBA’s fate will be sealed for the long term.

The question will then pass into the hands of CAS. With what options? Difficult to answer. The Lausanne-based court lacks precedents on such a case. The IOC is not in the habit of withdrawing its recognition, and with it its subsidies, from an international federation of an Olympic sport. Boxing is not a newcomer. In fact, it is one of the oldest, having been on the program since the third edition, held in Saint-Louis in 1904.

The only virtual certainty is that the process will not be completed overnight. It could last several months. The IBA will contest the IOC’s decision on both form and substance. The IBA has never minced its words with regard to the Olympic organization. When it announced the Executive Board’s recent recommendation, it described the decision as “odious and purely political“. In her latest report, submitted at the beginning of June, she expressed the view that the IOC had multiplied its low blows and misrepresentations against her.

Another near-certainty: a lengthy and inevitably uncertain appeal procedure before CAS should speed up the departure of national federations and their rallying behind the new international body, World Boxing. To date, the USA and Switzerland have already taken the plunge, while Great Britain has announced its decision to follow suit.

New Zealand and the Netherlands have also expressed their intention to change sides soon. Sweden and Germany, two other countries behind the creation of World Boxing, are expected to leave the IBA shortly. Ireland, for its part, has just made it known via a press release that the decision to join World Boxing was up to its clubs and would not be discussed until the next general meeting, scheduled for October.