— Published 16 March 2023

France plays the neutrality card

Not selected by the IOC as a qualifying event for the Paris 2024 Games, and boycotted by some of the major countries in the discipline (United States, Ireland, Great Britain, Canada…), the Women’s World Boxing Championships began on Wednesday 15 March in New Delhi, India. The international federation (IBA) has done its sums: no less than 65 countries took part in the opening ceremony (photo above), organised in the evening at the K.D. Jadhav Indoor Hall, a 6,000-seat venue. Among them, France. According to Dominique Nato, president of the French Boxing Federation (FFB), the decision to attend the 2023 Worlds was not an easy one. The leader explained to AFP that he had “approached the governing bodies of our country before making any decision.” But no firm instructions were given to him regarding participation. “From then on, the board of directors met and unanimously validated France’s participation in the world championships,” Dominique Nato continued. “France is the host country of the next Olympic Games, so it is in our interest to remain neutral. I’m sticking to the sporting aspect. These World Championships are an important step before the European Games, which will be the first qualifying event for the Olympic Games. My priority is sport, I come from the field, I was an athlete and a coach. I know what it means to miss a competition. I am aware of what is happening around the world, but once again, it is politics that is holding sport hostage, and that is intolerable.” The Women’s World Championships opened on Wednesday 15 March with the Russian and Belarusian delegations. Their boxers will fight in New Delhi under their colours and flags.