NAIROBI, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan boxing risks facing a suspension from international competitions, including the 2020 Olympic Games, because of alleged government interference in the running of the sport.
The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has sent a stern warning to Kenya through its affiliate Boxing Association of Kenya (BAK) president John Kameta, citing sports ministry interference.
Speaking in Nairobi, Kameta said AIBA is concerned and may ban the country from all competitions, including 2019 Olympic qualification if the Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Rashid Echesa continues to meddle in BAK affairs.
"We have some of our officials suspended by Echesa. Echesa selected his own officials and went on to stage bouts in Kakamega, which split the league down the middle. That was against the federation's calendar of events," Kameta said on Monday in Nairobi.
But Echesa has since dismissed AIBA concerns saying the global body must respect the laws of the land, which supersedes any other in the world. Echesa has ordered Sports Registrar Rose Wasike to make public an audit report of BAK activities.
"It has been brought to my attention that the autonomy of the BAK is being threatened due to external interference by the government," said AIBA executive director Tom Virgets. Kameta says missing out on Olympic qualification could be devastating for the federation's long term planning.
"They may ban us any time and that will be costly to our youth plans at the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020," warned Kameta.
AIBA has since instructed Kenya to stage fresh elections according to the boxing federation's constitution. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach has warned AIBA it may be expelled from the 2020 Olympics over grave financial and governance issues.
Bach warned in a statement that the IOC was "extremely worried" about how the sport was run and that the IOC was prepared to make bold decisions ahead of the 2020 Olympics in Japan. "The IOC reserves the right to review the inclusion of [Kenyan] boxing in the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020," Bach said.