IBA calls IOC's latest statement a "lack of respect". IBA

The decision to pay medal-winning boxers at the upcoming Paris Games by the International Boxing Association on Wednesday was met with an Olympic Committee ultimatum, which has in turn sparked uproar from the initiative’s promoter.

With hopes to set a trend in the world of boxing, IBA announced on Wednesday that it plans to pay medallists while also guaranteeing them rights to future title fights, a groundbreaking decision in the sport. However, the IOC reacted quickly and harshly to the association’s statement. Just hours after the fact, the Olympic body cited financial transparency as the main reason for rejecting the $3.1 million (€2,7 million) plan. "As always with the IBA, it is unclear where the money is coming from," it stated.

While the discrepancies between both governing bodies have been quite clear for a while now, the not-so-veiled accusation provoked an uptick in IBA’s own reaction on Thursday.

“Further to the unprecedented announcement by the IBA regarding its allocation of prize money for our Paris 2024 Olympic champions, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has immediately responded by giving an ultimatum to all National Federations and their boxers. Essentially the heavy-handed message is clear, if you fail to leave the IBA by the turn of the next Olympic cycle, then your athletes will not be able to compete at the Games. This is an absolute travesty and disgrace from allegedly one of the leading sports organizations in the world,” IBA’s latest official statement read.

The IOC had previously underlined that the Umar Kremlev-led association has no involvement whatsoever with Paris 2024, having been expelled from the Olympic Movement in June last year, a decision that IBA has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and is pending ruling. The original ban dates from 2021, when it was suspended over finance and governance issues, according to the IOC, who on Wednesday tightened the squeeze on any committee, federation or pugilist currently associated with IBA. “It is therefore already clear that any boxer whose National Federation adheres to the IBA will not be able to participate in the Olympic Games LA28,” it warned.

In turn, IBA also noted on Thursday that it has never restricted its athletes from participating in any event and questioned the IOC’s integrity in holding the same values, providing a long list of grievances in what it calls “this turbulent period” regarding its status as boxing’s international governing body.

“A reminder to all our members, IBA remains a vibrant, financially sound, and fully functioning International Federation. Our events are managed at the highest level, witnessed by all, to include prize money that provides real support for our athletes and families alike. The next six months will see some extremely exciting changes for IBA, focusing on the pathway for our athletes, from amateur grass root boxing, through to the transition into the professional arena,” the statement said.

IBA faces stiff competition from the new World Boxing organisation, led by former IBA presidential candidate Boris van der Vorst, which held its first meeting with the IOC earlier this month as it bids to become the International Federation for Los Angeles 2028. The IOC has given it a deadline of early next year to attract enough national boxing federations to be a viable partner, although several of those - particularly in Africa - still remain close to IBA.

In its “non-exhaustive list of challenges” revealed on Thursday, the association presided by Kremlev denounced that it had, among other things, completely changed the top management from the outgoing AIBA organization to a new team, cleared previous debts and provided a transparent financial programme, and removed over 25 officials from the pool to clean up the sport across all five continents, but that the IOC still deemed such effort insufficient and failed to recognise said advancements.

IBA labelled the IOC’s response to its prize money initiative, effectively punishing boxers who remain with the association beyond Paris 2024 “a double standard and biased declaration, that once again shows the true colours of the International Olympic Committee.”

The association went on to state that it had received feedback from numerous federations regarding “negative experiences” with IOC’s management of qualifying events and called it “a clear demonstration of discrimination to the whole sport of boxing and IBA in particular in its purest form.”