Russia, Belarus boxers in Asian Games causes disquiet
With boxers from these countries facing hostility in Europe over the Ukraine invasion, they want to qualify for the Paris Olympics via the Hangzhou Games
The possible entry of Russian and Belarusian boxers in the Hangzhou Asian Games to qualify for the Paris Olympics could face opposition from some Asian nations. Athletes from these nations face opposition from many countries due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
With the International Boxing Association (IBA) under suspension by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), a ‘Paris 2024 Boxing Unit’ has been formed by IOC to hold the Olympic qualifiers and the main competition in Paris. As per the IOC qualification process, the first qualifying event for Russia and Belarus boxers will be the European Games being held in Kraków and Małopolska, Poland from June 21.
However, the European Olympic Committee at its executive committee meeting on January 21 made it clear that Russia and Belarus will not take part in the European Games this year. This was after IOC asked EOC to consider their participation in international events. Poland, which has opened its doors to Ukrainian refugees following Russia’s invasion early last year, is a votary of Russian and Belarusian athletes being barred from competing internationally.
The Asian Games is the first Paris Olympics qualification tournament. The Olympic Council of Asia has offered non-members Russia and Belarus the opportunity to compete in Asia, including the Asian Games, for qualify for Paris. The international federations and IOC are exploring the possibility of creating a qualification pathway for them through tournaments in Asia.
“They are European countries and I don’t understand why they should participate in Asia (to qualify for Paris),” Japan coach Hiyama Shigeru, in New Delhi for the women’s world boxing championships, said.
“Asian countries are strong in boxing. We have Uzbekistan, India and Turkey. Why would you allow Russia and Belarus to participate here? This might affect the chances of Asian boxers to qualify,” he said through a translator.
“We may have a meeting regarding this issue with some Asian countries and we will oppose this move,” Shigeru said.
Following the continental phase of quota place allocation, IOC will hold two world qualification tournaments, which are planned in 2024. The Olympics are due to be held in July-August next year.
However, IBA and IOC have been on a warpath in recent months. With IOC stripping the New Delhi women’s world championships of the status as an Olympic qualifier, IBA has warned its technical officials that officiating in any IOC-organised qualifier would lead to possible sanctions under IBA’s technical and competition rules. Days before the world meet started in New Delhi, IBA had declared it would be a qualifier for the Olymipcs, adding to the confusion over qualifying for 2024 Paris.
“We want to figure out the qualification process. We want to confirm soon. How do we prepare our boxers? We train every day for Olympics,” says Chinese Taipei coach Ko Wen-Ming.
On Russian and Belarussian boxers possibly competing in Asia, he said: “We’re one family. Sport and politics should be separate. IBA needs to try to make an agreement with the IOC that will be the best for boxers. IBA needs to work on it. The Olympics are very important for boxing. If there is no boxing in the Olympics, there will be no boxing.”