Russian and Belarusian boxers on Thursday competed under their respective national flags at the IBA Women’s World Championships since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last year. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had issued sanctions, including a ban on national flags, symbols and anthems, against the athletes from the two countries after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year and Belarus’ assistance in the attack. Athletes from the two countries were allowed to compete in events but without their national flags or anthems. They took part as neutral athletes.
However, the International Boxing Association (IBA), led by Russian Umar Kremlev, last October lifted the ban on Russian and Belarusian, allowing them to participate under their own flag despite the IOCs recommendation.
Yuliya Apanasovich (52kg) of Belarus and Russia’s Aedma Anna (52kg) were the pugilists competing from the two countries on the first day of competition.
“It is the most wonderful emotions I have for sure (competing under the Russian flag).” “I’m really proud to compete for my country here. I’m proud that I am from Russia,” flyweight boxer Aedma Anna, who belongs to the Altai region in Russia, said.
“We did not have an opportunity to compete last year. It is so important for our country and our athletes to have an opportunity to take part in he World Championships.” The IBA’s decision to allow athletes from Russian and Belarus to compete has led over 10 countries, including USA, Britain, Canada and Ireland, to boycott the marquee-event During Anna’s bout there was ample support for the pugilist as the supporting staff and fellow boxers cheered for her from the stands with two Russian flags.
As many as 12 Russians boxers and six pugilists from Belarus are competing in the tournament being held at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall here.
The Russian and Belarusian flags were also waved at the opening ceremony of the tournament, which was attended by Kremlev and Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin.
Additionally, Russian energy company Gazprom is the biggest sponsor of the IBA, which has been suspended by the IOC since 2019 due to ongoing governance concerns. The massive prize pool of Rs 20 crore has also been sponsored by Gazprom.
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