Boxing Canada joins widening boycott of men's, women's world championships

Boxing Canada announced Tuesday it would not take part in either the upcoming women's or men's world championships due to the involvement of Russian and Belarusian athletes.

Organization withdraws from events over Russian, Belarusian participation

A boxer in a red Canada jersey throws a punch.
Boxing Canada announced Tuesday it would boycott the upcoming women's and men's world championships due to the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Canada won't compete in this year's men's and women's world boxing championship because of the inclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes, and also in protest of how the world governing body of the sport operates.

Canada joined United States, Britain, Ireland and Czechia among countries boycotting the women's championship March 15-26, in New Delhi, India.

"We've joined that movement," Boxing Canada president Ryan O'Shea told The Canadian Press on Tuesday. "That message is going to be very, very strong."

Canada, the U.S., Ireland and Czechia have also pulled out of the men's championship May 1-14 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, with Britain reviewing its involvement.

Regina's Tammara Thibeault is the reigning women's world middleweight champion. Charlie Cavanagh of Saint John, N.B., is a world silver medallist in women's welterweight.

"Our plan now, as it has been from the beginning, is about qualifying our athletes for the Olympics," O'Shea said.

"Our focus for both our males and females is the upcoming Pan American Games qualification because the Pan American Games in Chile are the first Olympic qualification."

International boxing organization suspended by IOC

The International Olympic Committee suspended the International Boxing Association in 2019 because of long-standing governance issues.

Russian businessman Umar Kremlev was re-elected IBA president last year.

The IOC administered the Olympic boxing tournament in Tokyo in 2021 and is managing the qualifiers for 2024 in Paris.

Boxing is not on the Olympic program in Los Angeles in 2028.

"We need boxing to remain in the Olympic Games," O'Shea said. "It was one of the very first sports involved in 1896.

"And right now, the IOC has removed us in 2028 unless they see serious change at a governance level. That is why I think we're starting to see countries pull out and not attend these critically important tournaments.

When Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago with the approval of Belarus, the IOC urged international sports federations to bar Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing and to withhold tournaments and championships from those countries.

The IOC stated in December it was exploring options for athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete as neutrals in Paris, but continued to insist they should not be allowed to compete under their country's name, flag or anthem.

The IBA allows Russians and Belarusians to represent their countries in competition.

"Umar Kremlev and the IBA allowed that to happen at their recent IBA tournament in Morocco," O'Shea said.

The IBA is offering $5.2 million US in world championship prize money and stated it "will pursue strong sanctions" against officials who initiate and join any boycott.

In Morocco, Kremlev urged athletes to defy boycotts and compete calling "those who are doing this to our athletes are worse than hyenas and jackals."

With files from The Associated Press

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