Russia, Belarus boxers compete under their flags
It will be the first time since the 2019 world championships that Russia is competing under the country’s flag.
It was a special day for Russian and Belarusian boxers at the women’s world championships here. They were competing in the tournament under their own flags after being banned from the previous edition.
Several countries have boycotted the International Boxing Association (IBA) event over Russian and Belarus athletes being allowed to compete under their national flags.
The IBA, run by Russian president Umar Kremlev, lifted a ban on Russian and Belarusian boxers in October against the International Olympic Committee's guideline following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in Feb 2022. Though the IOC has since changed its stance and has now allowed the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to competitions as “neutral athletes.” That too has not gone down well with several countries who want them to be banned from the Paris Olympics.
However, it has been tough for Russian and Belarusian boxers to find any support. They preferred to stay away from the limelight on the opening day of championships here.
“For sure it is so important for our athletes to get the opportunity to take part in world championships,” said Russian boxer Aedma Anna. “We could not compete last year. I am feeling proud to be able to represent my country,” she added.
Anna lost a close bout to Australian Suraci Monique in 52kg but she was not complaining. It was her first international competition.
“I tell you it is a wonderful emotion to be able to play under your flag. I will be supporting my teammates now,” she added.
Yuliya Apanasovich of Belarus was also competing in 52kg and made a winning start against Romanian Gheorghe Ana Maria 4-1. She refused to comment on the issue.
Russia has sent a strong 12-member team for the championships. It will be the first time since the 2019 world championships that Russia is competing under the country’s flag.
IBA controversial move has led to 11 countries boycotting the event but it has stood its ground amid criticism. IBA has opened disciplinary proceedings against 11 countries, including USA Boxing, Canada Boxing and Swedish Boxing Association over the boycott.
Kosovo boxer withdraws
Another athlete who pulled out of the event was Kosovo’s Donjeta Sadiku -- a world championships bronze medallist. According to the Kosovo Olympic Committee (KOK), Sadiku would only be allowed to compete as a neutral athlete as India does not recognise the country and therefore she refused to participate.
“It was unfortunate that the athletes of Kosovo declined the opportunity to come to New Delhi. IBA always stands for the athletes rights to represent their national symbols but cannot influence the diplomatic relationships between countries,” IBA said in a statement.