Picson: Abap part of group looking to save boxing’s Olympic stint
Counting on the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) “soft heart for athletes”, a group composed of 25 countries is working to save boxing’s spot in the Summer Games calendar, a mission whose urgency has peaked with the possibility of the sport being scrapped from Paris 2024.
The Common Cause Alliance (CCA), fronted by Dutch boxing federation’s Boris van der Vorst, includes the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (Abap).
“The CCA’s motto is ‘Keep Boxing Olympic,’” Abap president Ed Picson told the Inquirer on Saturday, after the IOC on raised the possibility of boxing being excluded from the 2024 Paris Games, saying the sport’s Russian-led world body showed it had “no real interest” in the sport or its athletes.
The International Boxing Association (IBA) was stripped of involvement in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and boxing is not on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games, pending reforms demanded by the IOC.
“We’re trying to get the IBA to implement reforms sought by the IOC but so far our pleas have fallen on deaf ears,” Picson said. “Instead, we’ve been branded as rebels.”
Picson said that while the CCA’s numbers may seem insignificant when compared to the IBA’s 200-plus membership, there is a growing number of sympathizers on the sidelines.
“A lot of countries are ready to support us,” Picson, the lone Asian member of the CCA, said.
Qualifying for the Paris 2024 boxing tournament is being organized by the IOC but it said that concerns regarding the IBA mean it will take further decisions that “may have to include the cancellation of boxing for the Olympic Games Paris 2024”.
An IOC spokesperson said: “The recent IBA Congress has shown once more that IBA has no real interest in the sport of boxing and the boxers, but is only interested in its own power.”
Picson revealed that with qualifiers already scheduled for 2023, the CCA will push for the IOC to make a decision.
“It would be devastating,” Picson said, “if boxing will not be a part of the Olympics.”
“This is one of the original sports in the modern Olympics. It’s been part of the Games since 1904. And the boxers have really been working so hard to qualify for their dream stint. That’s why we are confident that the IOC will help find a positive solution, even if it means excluding the IBA from running the event in the Olympics.”
“The IOC has always had a soft heart for athletes. It has always been an athletes-first organization,” added the former broadcaster.
The IBA is run by Russian Umar Kremlev with backing from Russian energy firm Gazprom. An extraordinary IBA congress in September voted against holding a new election, allowing Kremlev to remain as president, after a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling that Dutch candidate van der Vorst was wrongly prevented from standing.
—WITH A REPORT FROM REUTERS
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.