The IOC headquarters in Lausanne. GETTY IMAGES

A lightning-quick response from the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday, citing financial transparency as main motive for its rejection of the International Boxing Association’s plan to pay Paris 2024 medallists, exposes its tight squeeze on the boxing world regarding LA 2028 participation.

With a swift duck of the head and instant counterattack, the IOC issued a statement just hours after IBA’s announcement of its groundbreaking move in the sport, and said it had "taken note" of the decision by the association to award prize money to medal-winning boxers at the upcoming Paris Olympics.

IBA, who has long advocated for a more professionalised approach to the boxing landscape, based its bold move on “supporting the athletes, coaches, and National Federations, as well as underlining IBA’s commitment to delivering the best support for its athletes, based on their hard work and dedication to the sport of boxing”.

The IOC jabbed back with a damming and almost immediate accusation, which underlines the existing discrepancy between both organisations: "As always with the IBA, it is unclear where the money is coming from. This total lack of financial transparency was exactly one of the reasons why the IOC withdrew its recognition of the IBA," it stated.

IBA has no involvement with Paris 2024, having been expelled from the Olympic Movement in June last year, a decision that it appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and is pending its ruling. The ban followed the Tokyo 2020 Games where the IOC Boxing Task Force stepped in to administer qualification and the tournament itself after IBA (then AIBA) was suspended as the International Federation for boxing over finance and governance issues, according to the IOC.  However, many of the boxers that will step into the ring in the French capital continue to take part in IBA events such as continental and World Championships, and IBA Champions Night bills.

IBA announced that it would reward boxing medallists in Paris financially because “the IOC is unable to create conditions for the athletes”, according to its president, Umar Kremlev, who detailed that gold medallists will secure $100,000 (€92,000) with half going to the boxer, a quarter to their national federation and the other quarter to their coach. “Our athletes and their efforts must be appreciated. IBA offers opportunities and invests considerably in our boxers, they remain as the focal point, and we will continue to support them at all levels,” the Russian said.

In its rebuttal. the IOC alleged that “the IBA was not prepared to transparently explain the sources of its financing or to explain its full financial dependency, at that time, on a single state-owned company, Gazprom". It then proceeded to intensify its pressure on national federations and Olympic committees, basically issuing an ultimatum with regards to their participation in the 2028 Games, which will be held in Los Angeles. If they whish to compete again in four years, they must renounce IBA or risk Olympic exclusion, the IOC warned, straying from past, more measured, advisory approaches to such conflicts. Back in April, it also pushed back at the announcement by World Athletics that is would pay Track & Field Olympic champions, yet striking a less combative tone and stopping just short of launching any semblance of an ultimatum.

In this occasion, however, there was no room for misinterpretation, as the IOC reiterated that boxing won’t be part of the LA 2028 sports programme unless it is organised by a “credible, well-governed International Federation” and 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. The respective NOC will have to exclude such a National Boxing Federation from its membership,” the IOC statement read.

The new World Boxing organisation, led by former IBA presidential candidate Boris van der Vorst, 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.