Does Bill S-209 Criminalize Amateur MMA?
Recently, the Federal Government has made efforts to modernize the Criminal Code to permit MMA and other Striking Sports to become lawful.
While this amendment will allow the sport to be properly regulated on a Professional level, review of the legislation appears to create a potential gap on the amateur side. The reason being that “prize fights”, including MMA and other martial arts contests, will become illegal on the amateur side unless one of the following three exceptions apply:
(a) if the sport is on the programme of the International Olympic Committee (Note many martial arts, including MMA, are not)
(b) if the sport has been designated by the Province’s lieutenant governor in council or by any other person or body specified by him or her, or
(c) if the contest is held “in a province with the permission of the Province’s lieutenant governor in council or any other person or body specified by him or her.
Currently I am not aware of any BC legislation setting out a list of designated or permitted amateur contests. Under the current Criminal Code language this is not needed as amateur contests are exempt from criminalization where “the contestants wear boxing gloves of not less than one hundred and forty grams each in mass”. However, given the proposed re-wording it appears amateur bouts without a specific designation may unintentionally become outlawed.
The passage of the proposed federal legislation may unintentionally criminalize otherwise lawful amateur contests on a Province by Province basis. The solution will be for the various Provinces to be aware of this and make appropriate designations on the Provincial level.
Erik Magraken is a personal injury litigator and Partner with the British Columbia law-firm MacIsaac & Company. You can follow his BC Injury Law Blog here: http://bc-injury-law.com/blog/