Kickboxing and Sambo Granted Provisional Olympic Recognition

Today it was announced that Sambo and Kickboxing have been granted provisional recognition by the International Olympic Committee.

The following information was contained in a press release published today:

The International Sambo Federation (FIAS)…and the World Associations of Kickboxing Organisations (WAKO) were granted provisional IOC recognition for a period of three years by the EB. These three International Federations will now be able to receive funding from the IOC and can apply for development programmes, while full recognition has to be granted by the IOC Session.  

For those unfamiliar with the art, Sambo is a Russian unarmed combative sport with both a grappling based sport ruleset and a grittier variant known as combat sambo which is more akin to modern mixed martial arts.

This IOC recognition brings both these sports closer to eventual potential inclusion in the Olympic Games.

A few words are warranted on what this development means in Canada as Canada’s Criminal Code by default legalizes combative sports on the Programme of the IOC.

When Section 83 of the Criminal Code was overhauled in 2013 to allow Mixed Martial Arts to be legalized in Canada other combat sports were impacted by the legislation.  The law made it clear which professional and amateur combat sports were legal.  In large part the legislation defers to Provinces.  A default, however, are Olympic Combat Sports.  Unless Provinces say otherwise amateur versions of these sports are automatically legal under the Criminal Code.

Over the years many Provinces have exercised their Section 83 Criminal Code powers noting which sports were legal and which were not. Some Provinces have not yet exercised their powers since section 83 was overhauled making the Criminal Code the default for amateur combat sports in those jurisdictions.

Today’s news does not actually legalize these sports.  Having provisional recognition does not in itself put the sports on the Programme of the IOC.  Karate, for the sake of illustration, is a combative sport that was not only granted recent recognition by the IOC but outright made it onto the Programme of the IOC with its debut scheduled for the upcoming games in Tokyo making the sport legal by default in Canada. If kickboxing and Sambo can build on their momentum and follow the path that Karate took they too can enjoy a default legal status in Canada.  Today’s announcement is a big step in that direction.


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