Saskatchewan Legalizes Amateur MMA; Pro to Come by Summer 2014
As discussed earlier this month, Saskatchewan has plans underway to legalize MMA. Although it appeared amateur MMA was to be legalized the plans apparently also will include professional MMA. The Government of Saskatchewan has just released the following press release:
The Government of Saskatchewan has approved the establishment of a provincial athletics commission and is taking the necessary steps to have the commission running by the summer of 2014. This commission will hold the authority to sanction professional combative sports, including mixed martial arts and boxing events.
Bill S-209, a bill to amend section 83 of the Criminal Code to legalize the sport of mixed martial arts across Canada was passed in June 2013. This amendment makes professional boxing and mixed martial arts contests legal in Canada when they have the authorization of an athletics commission created by provincial legislation.
The legislation will provide protocols for license applications, event permits and the terms and conditions of an event. It will ensure that competitors participate in appropriate pre-fight medical testing, such as concussion screening, blood tests and eye exams. It will ensure that qualified medical staff and event officials are hired, that promoters and competitors have the proper licenses, and that promoters have suitable liability insurance. The commission will be responsible for tracking competitors’ fighting history and will ensure safety protocols are enforced.
If the government is involved, a consistent standard of qualifications, rules, regulations and safety protocols for all participants and officials across the province, through a uniform licensing framework, will occur. This will ensure the safety of the athletes.
“Our government is dedicated to protecting our athletes,” Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Kevin Doherty said. “A provincial athletics commission will help ensure the safety of everyone involved in professional combative sport competitions. After the amended changes to the Criminal Code were made in June, our government received the clarification we needed to move forward on this.”
“I want to thank the province for being proactive on this,” Tourism Saskatoon’s Director of Industry Development and Sport Randy Fernets said. “A provincial commission will attract large-scale MMA events to Saskatchewan. Such events are good for tourism and our growing province. Competitions such as the Ultimate Fighting Competition (UFC) will attract fans from across the province who will spend money on event tickets, hotel rooms and meals in restaurants.”
After thorough research and consultations, the Government of Saskatchewan determined that a provincial commission will be the most effective, efficient option for sanctioning mixed martial arts and boxing events in Saskatchewan. It is also in line with what the majority of provinces have done to sanction professional MMA events.
The amendments to the Criminal Code also impact amateur combative sports. The province is entering into an agreement with the Saskatchewan Martial Arts Association (SMAA). The SMAA will sanction and oversee amateur combative sports including mixed martial arts, kickboxing, modified muay thai and full-contact karate.
The SMAA is a provincial sport governing body representing amateur athletes. When sanctioning amateur events, the association will be responsible for co-ordinating approval of officials, tracking competitors’ fighting histories, and co-ordinating appropriate medical testing. To qualify for sanctioning, events must be hosted by a member of the SMAA. Competitors cannot be paid and they must be 18 or older.
“We are so pleased to oversee the sanctioning of amateur combative sport competitions in this province,” SMAA President Tim Oehler said. “By regulating amateur competitions, we help eliminate unsanctioned fights that put athletes at risk. We are passionate about sport development and look forward to continuing this role in partnership with the province.”
The SMAA will start sanctioning amateur combative sporting events immediately.
Erik Magraken is a personal injury litigator and Partner with the British Columbia law-firm MacIsaac & Company. The article was re-printed with permission from his Canadian MMA Law Blog.