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INCHEON, South Korea (AP) — Indian boxers will be allowed to participate at the Asian Games under their national flag after the sport's amateur world governing body gave provisional recognition to a new national federation.
AIBA president C.K. Wu issued a statement Tuesday saying the new entity, Boxing India, has been unanimously approved for provisional membership.
The previous Indian Boxing Federation was suspended by AIBA in December 2012 for not following proper procedures during elections in which it elevated previous president Abhay Singh Chautala to chairman of the body.
Chautala's election as president of the Indian Olympic Association that same week led to IOA's suspension by the International Olympic Committee. The IOA was reinstated to the Olympic movement during the Sochi Winter Games in February after a new set of officials were elected.
"I would like to emphasize the importance of managing Boxing India in the most transparent, fair, democratic manner and most importantly in the respect of all AIBA rules and regulations," said Wu, who advised Boxing India to apply for an affiliation to the Indian Olympic Association.
That could spark more issues: the national Olympic committee was prevented by AIBA from conducting the Boxing India elections, and subsequently refused to send an observer to the poll.
Indian boxers have competed mostly as independent athletes since the suspension, with the promise of holding elections ensuring their participation as part of the Indian contingent at this year's Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
There were also fears that Indian boxers would not be allowed to compete under the national flag at Incheon but AIBA's communications manager Albina Krasnodemska confirmed to The Associated Press that "they can use their flag now."
Boxing was a major contributor to India's tally at Guangzhou four years ago with nine medals, including two gold. India will need the boxing medals if it hopes to match its Guangzhou haul of 65 medals, including 14 gold.
Beijing Olympic bronze medalist Vijender Singh has pulled out due to injury but India has a five-time world champion in the women's ranks — M.C. Mary Kom, who won a bronze at the London Olympics two years ago.
Mary Kom said the boxers had been "really depressed" over the uncertainty of their participation.
India failed to win a boxing gold medal at Glasgow after having won at least one gold at each of the previous three editions of the Commonwealth Games.
Boxing events are scheduled to be held here from Sept. 24- Oct. 2.
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