Russian and Belarusian boxers competing at the Women’s World Boxing Championships in India this week will be doing so under the representation of their respective country’s flags.
Eighteen boxers, 12 from Russian and eight from Belarus, were able to use their nation’s flags during the opening ceremony on Wednesday after the International Boxing Association (IBA) lifted sanctions against the two countries last year, Reuters reported.
Russian businessman Umar Kremlev, who is the president of the IBA, told the outlet last month that other sports governing bodies around the world that have taken a stance against the two nations following the invasion of Ukraine should move in the same direction as the IBA.
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“They should participate. It should not be some kind of privilege that is given depending on the circumstances. Each international association should have these standards.”
The move has sparked backlash from participating nations, with several countries boycotting the event, including the United States, AFP reported.
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Most Olympic sports have excluded athletes from Russia and Belarus since shortly after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine last year. The IOC initially recommended excluding them on safety grounds but now says keeping the restrictions would be discriminatory and has faced major backlash after recently making a pathway for them to try to qualify for the 2024 Paris Games.
Last month, 35 countries signed a statement that criticized the IOC plan to allow Russians and Belarusians to return to competition ahead of qualifying events as neutral athletes without national symbols.
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According to AFP, several countries have also vowed to boycott the Men’s World Boxing Championship in Uzbekistan in May.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.