The World Boxing Council (WBC) has launched a campaign to maintain the sport’s place in the Olympic Games amid growing concern over escalating tensions between the International Boxing Association (Aiba) and International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The ‘Yes! To Boxing In Olympics’ campaign comes after the IOC at the weekend opened an investigation into Aiba, stating it could block the sport from participating at the Tokyo 2020 summer Games due to concerns over the body’s finances and governance.
President Thomas Bach said that the IOC was “extremely worried” about the administration of the sport, with Aiba ordered to produce a new report over its future direction by April 30. The IOC has already frozen financial contributions for Aiba and has said that those will not be reinstated until a satisfactory outcome is reached.
Aiba has had an uneasy relationship with the governing bodies of pro boxing in the past, with the WBC having been a vocal critic of its decision to grant eligibility to pro boxers at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
In its message supporting the petition, the WBC wrote: “Boxing is one of the six sports which created the original Olympics in Athens, along with pentathlon, racing, horseback riding, chariots racing and pancracio (wrestling). Boxing is a sport which has been practiced since 1904 in the modern Olympics.”
The message added: “Olympic glory has been the platform for legendary champions such as Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Teofilo Stevenson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya, Nino Benvenuti, Lennox Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko just to name a few. The world boxing community unites through this petition to plead the continuation of the sport of boxing in the Olympic Games.”
WBC president Mauricio Sulaimán said: “We cannot allow other people’s situations to end a historic sport at the Olympic Games. Everyone who loves sport should raise their voices for boxing. Today the WBC takes action against this possible risk and launches the campaign ‘Yes! To Boxing In Olympics’.
“We are the voice of boxing and it is our responsibility to defend the right to participate in the Olympic Games.”