AFTER Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) called for international sports federations to ban Russian and Belarussian athletes and relocate events from Russia and Belarus. IBA, the world governing body for amateur boxing, will follow that request. Last week the IBA’s Board of Directors met to agree on further actions in support of the IOC’s recommendations.

“While condemning the breach of the Olympic Truce and the military activities against Ukraine, IBA adopted the IOC recommendation with regard to the participation of boxers and competition officials (including referees and judges) belonging to the IBA’s national federations of Russia or Belarus. Accordingly, they shall not be invited or allowed to participate in international boxing competitions. Wherever this is not possible on short notice for organisational or legal reasons, they shall only be permitted to participate as neutral athletes. This decision will take immediate effect,” IBA said in a statement. “The Board also approved the cancellation of the international events planned in Russia and Belarus this year as per the IOC’s recommendation. These decisions will be kept under constant review.

“IBA is completely committed to putting sport at the service of the peaceful development of humanity. Consistent with these commitments, the IBA Board also offered its full support for measures aimed at helping the Ukrainian boxers.”

IBA has said it will provide financial and logistical support for Ukrainian boxers and other team members seeking to continue their participation in competition. Where possible, IBA will also provide humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian team members arriving in neighbouring countries.

It’s a significant move. IBA is led by a Russian, Umar Kremlev who used to run the Russian boxing federation. But to get boxing back into the 2028 Olympic Games IBA needs to meet the IOC’s criteria for reform. Being outside of the mainstream of the Olympic movement would have been difficult for boxing.

There are other sporting sanctions affecting Russian athletes in boxing. In the UK, the British Boxing Board of Control will not permit boxers registered or licensed by the Russian Boxing Federation or Belarussian Federation of Professional Boxing to compete in the United Kingdom under their jurisdiction at this time.

Dmitry Bivol’s May 7 clash with Canelo Alvarez is still due to go ahead in Las Vegas, although Bivol wouldn’t be allowed the Russian flag or insignia (if he even wanted them). But Wladimir Klitschko, the former world champion who is staying in Ukraine during the Russian invasion has called for all Russian boxers to be excluded from the sport. He told BBC Radio Five Live, “It’s nothing against the personalities or athletes, it’s about the politics of Russia. Every Russian representative in this case needs to be sanctioned, because this way we show to Russia that the world is against his senseless war and there is no good in this war.”