The AIBA had earlier set a May 14 deadline for the formation of the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) © Getty Images (Representational Image)
The AIBA had earlier set a May 14 deadline for the formation of the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) © Getty Images (Representational Image)

New Delhi: The looming threat of an Olympic expulsion has ended for Indian boxers after the International Boxing Association (AIBA) agreed to extend the deadline for formation of the proposed new federation, which took another step forward by getting itself registered as a society. The AIBA had earlier set a May 14 deadline for the formation of the Boxing Federation of India (BFI), but has agreed “in principle” to extend it given the “logistics” involved. “Seeing the progress that has been made towards constituting the BFI, the AIBA has agreed to extend the deadline from the previously set date of May 14. They have not given us any specific fresh deadline but have assured that our boxers will not be stopped from competing in the Olympics,” a top official told PTI.

“AIBA is satisfied with the progress made by Indian boxing fraternity so far as we have taken many steps together in order to reach this stage wherein we now have a properly Registered Federation with 35 out of 36 states/UTs willing to participate,” he added. The AIBA had earlier declared that it would bar Indian boxers from the Olympics if a new national body does not take shape by May 14. Only one Indian boxer – Shiva Thapa (56kg) – has qualified for Rio Olympics so far with two more qualifying events – one each for men and women – still to go.

The process of forming BFI picked up pace after the stakeholders’ meeting in Kolkata last month after which the Sports Ministry gave a No Objection Certificate for registering the body besides agreeing to send its observer for the elections, which were previously planned for May 8. “As per BFI constitution, we need 21 days notice and as per AIBA Statutes, they also need a month’s notice and Electoral College for their scrutiny. So considering all this, I think election may take place by this month end or so,” the official said.

The BFI will adhere to the National Sports Code, which puts a cap on the age and tenure of office-bearers. In another development, the ad-hoc committee currently running the sport approached Justice (Retd) Mukul Mudgal, who has been overseeing the functioning of Delhi and District Cricket Association, to either be the Returning Officer for the polls or suggest a few names.

Mudgal, citing his busy schedule, has chosen to send a few recommendations. “I have told them that I cannot take up the position but I have given them a few suggestions, the details of which I cannot reveal right now,” Mudgal told PTI. Indian boxing has been in administrative turmoil since 2012 when the erstwhile Indian Amateur Boxing Federation was terminated for manipulation in elections.

The body that took shape after that — Boxing India — in 2014, also could not run the show and was dissolved by AIBA following a revolt by the state units. The continued tug of war between the administrators had jeopardised the sport to such an extent that Indian boxers were starved of international exposure due to the AIBA-enforced suspension, which has severely affected their overall performance.

To put the situation in perspective, a record seven men and one woman boxer had qualified for the Olympics in 2012, while only one has so far made the cut for Rio. Add to this, the Indian boxers have been forced to compete under the AIBA flag instead of the tri-colour because of the ongoing situation.