The election in four days that could decide boxing’s future at the Olympics is “too close to announce”, according to sources familiar with the contest for the presidency of the International Boxing Association.
Holder Umar Kremlev faces a challenge from Dutchman Boris van der Vorst, who was barred from standing for election earlier this year for a bogus technicality, a decision overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Supported by a group of nations, including the United States, England, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the Nordics, France and most recently Ireland, which operate under the Common banner Cause Alliance, Van der Vorst launched a global network backed campaign based on the premise that unless he is elected, the International Olympic Committee will not restore boxing to the Olympic program in 2028.
Ultimately, the election will be decided by how small federations in the Caribbean, Africa, Oceania, the Middle East and Southeast Asia – whose boxers are unlikely to stand qualify for the Olympics – will vote at the Congress in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.
With that in mind, Van der Vorst promised a package of financial measures to support smaller federations if he wins the competition.
Due to its expulsion by the IOC, the IBA is also excluded from any income from the Olympic Games, which have traditionally been their main source of income.
Van der Vorst said he would secure boxing’s place on the Olympic program which, in turn, would unlock IOC funds that will fund programs in smaller federations.
“IBA has never had a well-defined sustainable strategy to support small national federations.
“As a result, developing national federations have never been able to consistently grow and prosper or hold IBA leaders accountable for ignoring their needs between elections.
“For the first time in history, I am making a number of clearly defined promises in a
responsible way to support all developing boxing nations,” he said.
It remains to be seen whether that commitment will be enough to sway enough delegates from smaller nations in the contest in which the Russian-born Kremlev remains the frontrunner. Having Congress in Armenia – which is an ally of Russia – is a boost for the Kremlev.
The Common Cause Alliance Group campaigned unsuccessfully for the Congress to be moved to Lausanne, not only because of the political and military ties between Russia and Armenia, but also because Armenian boxing officials are the subject of under investigation for their role in incidents at the men’s elite European boxing championships earlier this month. year.
On Sunday, delegates must first vote on whether to follow a board recommendation and proceed with the presidential election before balloting can begin.
Meanwhile, in a bizarre coincidence, a former executive director of AIBA, the former name of the sport’s world governing body, has made a series of explosive revelations about a history of corruption within the organisation. He also implicated the International Olympic Committee in his allegations.
Among the claims made by Ho Kim in an interview with the London Times was that he put money in envelopes to bribe national federation officials during a presidential election in Santo Domingo in 2006. .
The election saw Taiwan’s Dr CK Wu narrowly beat Pakistan’s Anwar Chowdhry, who had held the post for 20 years. Kim claimed Wu was backed by then-IOC President Jacques Rogge. Kim was sacked by AIBA in 2015.
An IBA spokesperson told Inside the Games that the current organization has no ties to AIBA and should not be punished for the alleged crimes of previous regimes.
“IBA should not take responsibility for the people who created these problems of the past. We are here to clean the house. It is high time that everyone takes responsibility for their actions.”
Current IOC President Thomas Bach once described boxing as a “problem child” for the organization.
Its future as an Olympic sport hinges on a regime change at the top, as the IOC is unlikely to readmit the sport as long as Umar Kremlev is president.