IOC warns Afghanistan over women’s sports and Olympics

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday warned that it could stop working with Afghanistan ahead of the next Olympics in 2024 if women are not allowed to play sports under Taliban rule.

The IOC said its support for Afghanistan’s National Olympic Committee will depend on conditions including women being allowed to play sports with “safe and inclusive access” and to take part in sports administration. Afghanistan’s teams for international events must include female athletes who live in the country and not only those based abroad.

The IOC board said it “expressed its serious concern and strongly condemned the latest restrictions imposed by the Afghan authorities on women and young girls in Afghanistan, which prevent them from practicing sport in the country.”

Afghanistan’s participation and “the representation, or not, of the country” in the next Summer Olympics in Paris in 2024 “will depend on the progress made in relation to the fundamental issue of safe access to sport for women and young girls in the country,” the IOC said.

It was not immediately clear how soon the IOC might implement the measures.

The IOC said it will continue direct support for individual athletes from Afghanistan who aim to compete at the Olympics.

Afghanistan had a team of four men and one woman at the last Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Human Rights Watch called on the IOC on Monday to suspend Afghanistan from taking part in sports events immediately and to halt its funding. The IOC suspended the Afghanistan NOC in 1999 during the previous period of Taliban rule.

Also at the IOC executive board meeting Tuesday, a long-running standoff between the IOC and the International Boxing Association continued. The IOC said the boxing body had not achieved the “drastic change of culture” that the IOC had demanded.

The IOC has long criticized how IBA is run, its finances and a history of disputes over refereeing and judging Olympic fights.

The IOC suspended the IBA, then known as AIBA, in 2019 and excluded its officials from running the boxing tournament at the Tokyo Olympics last year. The IOC is already planning to stage the qualifying competitions for boxing in Paris in 2024 without the IBA. The dispute means boxing is not yet on the program for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, though it could be added at a later date, with or without the IBA in charge.

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