Amateur MMA / Combat Sports in BC Headed for a Mixed Bag of Regulation?

canadian mma law amateur combat sports in bc

Changes are coming soon in the BC amateur MMA/combat sports landscape as a result of the Bill S-209 overhaul.

I have been in touch with a few commissioners / stakeholders in the MMA community from different Provinces over the past month and there appears to be some hesitation on the government front hoping to “get it right” when it comes to passing laws regulating amateur combat sports.  BC, to its credit, appears ready to pull the trigger on some interim changes before overhauling the landscape on a more permanent basis.  This is sensible as most amateur combat sports are illegal by default until Provinces pass appropriate laws.  Moving quickly, albeit perhaps imperfectly, is better than doing nothing.

I’m advised that BC is “trying to set in place what is needed to make amateur events legal asap.  This likely won’t be the final step but an interim one.

I asked David Galbraith, who works as the assistant deputy minister in BC’s Ministry of Sport, about what specific changes are being considered.  While getting details from Government is never easy David did reveal that BC will likely bring in a variety of regulations which will vary based on the specific combat sport in question.  Below are some of the details recently shared with me:

Basically the criminal code enables (using my language):

–          Combat sports legal if they are on the IOC list

–          Combat sports legal if they are on the IOC list subject to permission by a person/organization designated by the province:

–          Combat sports legal if designated by the province

–          Combat sports legal if designated by the province with permission by a person/organization designated by the province.

 Recognized amateur sports across Canada are governed by Provincial Sport Organizations (which are linked to National Sport Organizations which are linked with International bodies usually) normally.   

We will likely have a blend of the above 4 scenarios.  Depending on the level of risk of the sport; whether or not there is a provincially recognized body to govern it; and the likelihood of approach by other provinces.

David Galbraith 
Assistant Deputy Minister 
Arts, Culture, Gaming Grants and Sport

I will continue to share further details of BC’s new combat sports landscape as they start to take shape.

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