Boris van der Vorst has insisted that visa requirements should not prevent Lausanne from hosting the IBA Extraordinary Congress ©IBA

International Boxing Association (IBA) Presidential hopeful Boris van der Vorst has reiterated his belief that the pivotal Extraordinary Congress should be staged in Lausanne, dismissing concerns about obtaining visas and arguing that "we need to be close and open to the" International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Dutch official van der Vorst was joined by New Zealand’s Steve Hartley, Sweden’s Per-Axel Sjöholm and American Mike McAtee in writing to Armenian Boxing Federation President Ohanes Ovsepian and Yemen Boxing Federation President Raed Ali Noman to provide their views in the ongoing debate with regards to the host city for the key gathering.

The Extraordinary Congress in late September or October is due to be the IBA's second of the year, following on from the controversial meeting in Istanbul in May.

Van der Vorst was one of five candidates deemed ineligible to stand by the Boxing Independent Integrity Unit on the eve of the election, allowing Russian official Umar Kremlev to be re-elected as President unopposed.

Hartley, Sjöholm, McAtee and Denmark's Lars Brovil were also found to be ineligible for their respective positions.

However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last month ruled that van der Vorst, Hartley, Sjöholm and McAtee should have been permitted to stand, with Brovil opting not to appeal.

Several countries are believed to have put cities forward to host the Extraordinary Congress, but van der Vorst, Hartley, Sjöholm and McAtee have pushed for it to be held in the Swiss city of Lausanne, which is home to the International Olympic Committee and numerous International Federations including the IBA.

Their letter to Ovsepian and Noman, seen by insidethegames, argued that visa requirements to enter Switzerland should not provide an obstacle to Lausanne hosting the event.

"You are right, there are many countries with more lenient visa policies than Switzerland," it states.

"We understand that many would have to go through considerable difficulties in acquiring a Schengen visa.

"Nevertheless, with 80 days remaining, there is sufficient time to apply and receive visas provided that the necessary decisions are timely made by the IBA.

"Switzerland hosted AIBA Congresses on numerous occasions in the past, including an Extraordinary Congress in 2016.

"There are clear opportunities to optimize the organizational budget when Congress is set close to its Head Office, aside from the obvious advantages in operational control effectiveness."

Umar Kremlev was elected unopposed at the Extraordinary Congress in Istanbul, but the CAS ruled that his rival for the Presidency Boris van der Vorst should have been allowed to stand ©IBA
Umar Kremlev was elected unopposed at the Extraordinary Congress in Istanbul, but the CAS ruled that his rival for the Presidency Boris van der Vorst should have been allowed to stand ©IBA

It also argued that the less stringent entry requirements in Istanbul had not prevented the Extraordinary Congress from being marred by the disqualification of candidates.

"We would like to reiterate that we have just had an IBA Congress in Istanbul, a very convenient hub on the world map with rather open visa policies," the quartet said.

"Yet, neutrality and integrity were compromised there, as evidenced by the CAS decision and the following IOC announcements.

"It brought IBA and our National Federations much closer to a disaster.

"Just as you, we also look forward to the report of the Professor [Ulrich] Haas' Governance Review Group on the Istanbul Congress."

Van der Vorst, Hartley, Sjöholm and McAtee insisted that staging the Extraordinary Congress in a city deemed by the IOC to be the "Olympic Capital" would be crucial, with the sport's Olympic status on the brink.

"Above all, we kindly ask you to consider the fact that the Olympic future of our sport is on the line, as well as the Olympic dreams of boxers around the world," the letter reads.

"If we are serious about keeping boxing Olympic, we need to be close and open to the IOC as well as other major sports stakeholders.

"This means that the upcoming Congress should be held right in front of their eyes, in a country that is ranked among the world top 10 democracies with lowest corruption levels."

They welcomed a proposal to invite "to invite the IOC and other stakeholders to the upcoming IBA Extraordinary Congress as observers", and expressed hope that the IBA Board would pursue this.

Boxing New Zealand President Hartley has written a separate letter individually, also seen by insidethegames, addressed to "friends of Olympic boxing".

The IOC has stripped the IBA of rights to organise the Paris 2024 boxing tournament, and Boris van der Vorst and three other officials have argued
The IOC has stripped the IBA of rights to organise the Paris 2024 boxing tournament, and Boris van der Vorst and three other officials have argued "we need to be close and open to the IOC" ©Getty Images

"In the current circumstances that IBA finds itself, the debate as to where the election is to be held should not be essentially based on the visa policies and convenience of travel," Hartley wrote.

"I do not believe it would be 'that' inconvenient to apply for visas, as it will be the job of the IBA to assist with this.

"Visas were required for the 2018 Moscow Congress as well as the 2016 Congress in Montreux.

"We managed alright then and did not question the inconvenience.

"If we talk about inconveniences, try travelling 17,500 km [kilometres], spending 30hrs in the air and over 40hrs including transit, only to be unfairly sanctioned and prevented from running for a Director position by the IBA upon arrival to Istanbul."

He also accused the IBA of "returning to the old tactics of announcing the 'Year of Africa'", which he claimed was a repeat of Ching-Kuo Wu's "futile attempt to stay in power" after the Rio 2016 boxing tournament, which was marred by corruption and manipulation.

There has been opposition to calls from van der Vorst for the Extraordinary Congress to be staged in Lausanne, with Slovenian Boxing Association President Robert Reher accusing him of spreading "inappropriate propaganda".

Kremlev was initially elected in 2020 on a vow to wipe out the organisation's debts and restore its place at the Olympics.

He has overseen governance reforms and a change in the governing body's acronym from AIBA.

However, the IOC has expressed concerns over a sponsorship deal with Russian majority state-owned company Gazprom.

Last month, the IBA was stripped of its rights to organise boxing at the Paris 2024 Olympics, with IOC sports director Kit McConnell arguing "enough was enough" after the Extraordinary Congress controversy.

The sport has also been left off the initial programme for Los Angeles 2028.