IOC decides to remove boxing and weightlifting from Olympic programme
At a meeting, the Executive Committee of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved 28 sports for the sports programme of the 2028 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Boxing, modern pentathlon and weightlifting are among those sports that aren’t on the Games’s programme. In an op-ed column, Realnoe Vremya’s journalist Dzhaudat Abdullin figures out the reasons for such a decision.
Pentathlon is its beauty
28 sports that are on the programme of the Games in Los Angeles were approved at a meeting of the IOC’s Executive Committee. And they don’t include weightlifting (weightlifters have been competing since the first Olympics in 1896), boxing (since 1904) and modern pentathlon (since 1912). Strictly speaking, these sports still have a chance of being on the Olympic programme, since Americans can return boxing and will likely do it.
The Olympics in Saint Louise in 1904 were the first ones where boxers competed, Americans have great Olympic traditions (Mohammad Ali, Ray Leonard, Roy Jones), but weightlifting and modern pentathlon are under a real threat. However, the problem in the sports that became troubled looks discriminatory.
The IOC thinks that “AIBA must demonstrate that it has successfully addressed the ongoing concerns around its governance, financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes.” Sadly, boxing “surrendered to the changing world” of the IOC a long time ago. At first, it was required to follow sex equality rules, and women’s boxing was added to the Olympic programme. The Swedish Amateur Boxing Association promoted it. At the same time, the Swedes didn’t manage to develop men’s boxing, boxing superstar Ingemar Johansson retired in 1963, which didn’t impede Sweden from incriminating global changes in boxing development. The situation resembles today’s one when Norway that doesn’t have a female figure skater is strongly pushing for changing the age limit in this sport.
Unfortunately, both the International Boxing Federation and the IOC, and then the international federation gave in to the International Olympic Committee. Helmets were introduced, the referee system was reformed after the criticism of the Olympic tournament in Rio. Nevertheless, the IOC didn’t recognise the status, and this summer President of Russia’s Boxing Federation Umar Kremlyov optimistically claimed that all problems would be solved by late 2021. However, the IOC didn’t think so: no boxing, no problem.
Weightlifting was reproached because of the necessity of “following anti-doping recommendations and showing full independence of the anti-doping programme.” “The UIPM must finalise its proposal for a replacement of horse riding and overall competition format ... they must demonstrate significant reduction in cost ... and appeal to youth and the general public.”
Fans shouldn’t be taken for idiots
So modern pentathlon must change horse riding, which is part of pentathlon, because of German’s coach Kim Raisner repeatedly punched the horse Saint Boy pentathlete of the national team Annika Schleu was riding. The German coach was indignant because riders in pentathlon rode others’ horses provided by organisers, and here it is a matter of luck. Meanwhile, the competitions in Tokyo were remembered for putting down a 14-year-old horse Jet Set of Swiss jokey Robin Godel, 22. They performed in equestrian eventing where the horse was injured and became disabled. Again, pentathlon is removed after the female coach hit the horse several times, and horse riding where the horse died stays on the programme of the Games. Where’s the logic?
Horse riding has been one of the aristocratic sports since the first Olympics as well as rowing, golf, sailing, tennis... For instance, people “familiar with the emperor” competed at the Olympics in 1912 from tsarist Russia: horse riders Great Prince Dmitry Romanov and Pavel Rodzyanko, tennis player Duke Mikhail Sumarokov-Elston, yachtsman Prince Esper Belozyorsky, Yelena Baturina chaired the Horse Riding Federation, now Marina Sechina does, should we clarify those spouses they are?
Ukrainian oligarch and Rada deputy Oleksandr Onyshchenko gathered foreigners for his country’s national team and gave himself a treat and competed in the Olympics twice. In the West, horse riding remains an elite sport, and the IOC that often requires making Olympics cheaper turns the blind eye to exorbitant expenses on golf where the court construction and maintenance costs huge money, horse riding and sailing, which are expensive both from a perspective of the transportation of ships and horses and maintenance. Most importantly, none of these sports is popular, the IOC management insists. As its directive reads, three federations also “must demonstrate improvements across the areas of safety, accessibility, universality appeal for youth.” You have seen a lot of young golf players, horse riders and yachtsmen. Removing modern pentathlon from the Olympic programme, the IOC doesn’t claim against equestrian eventing that is based on the same principle of a combination of different sports disciplines besides horse riding and shooting sport.
From Los Angeles to Los Angeles
We are not against all sports that remained on the Olympic programme, moreover, three of them — surfing, climbing and skateboarding — are still due to receive approval at the IOC’s meeting during the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. The case is that today’s current politics of the IOC isn’t even about double standards, it is an absence of sound mind, logic and Olympic principles: “Faster, higher, stronger.” At the same time, Tatarstan and even Russian athletes don’t even seriously hope to win a medal in these disciplines. As for boxing, Gelyusa Galiyeva is about to join the national team, but even she was third at the recent Russian Championships in Chelyabinsk. Tatarstan weightlifters are more successful in this respect, but only in comparison. So the IWF World Championships are taking place now in Tashkent where Regina Shaydullina has made her debut and hasn’t lifted the first weight. Zulfat Garayev who has become team Russia’s only medallist has won bronze. And our heart cries not because of the medals and discriminatory attitude to Russia, it is about the discrimination of the Olympic movement.
It is symbolic that the Summer Games that changed the world’s sport where commerce came were held in Los Angeles in 1984. Soviet athletes didn’t go to that Games obeying a decision of Minister of Sport Marat Gramov who comes from Stavropol Krai, Mikhail Gorbachyov’s colleague. The decision not to participate in the Games and hold alternative competitions named Friendship wasn’t reasonable. We didn’t prove anything to anybody, spent huge money, while athletes anyway remained unhappy though they received as big awards as the Olympic ones.
The Los Angeles Games in 2028 aren’t about Russia, which, we will repeat, won’t almost suffer from the removal of modern pentathlon and weightlifting but will lose the potential number of awards only in boxing. Here, we are talking about the traditional Olympic movement we got used to. And this decision of the IOC, by the way, can cause disapproval not only in Russia but also in such a great sports power as China and not so sports India. Boxers and weightlifters of these countries are the local pride, and we have people to come together with to defend these three fundamental Olympic sports.
The author’s opinion does not necessarily coincide with the position of Realnoe Vremya’s position.