Posts Tagged ‘BC Athletic Commissioner Act’

Last Summer British Columbia passed the Athletic Commissioner Act which will create a commission to regulate “professional” MMA and other combat sports on a Province wide basis.  Despite this there is still little certainty about exactly how professional contests will be regulated in BC because the Athletic Commissioner Act Regulations have not yet been passed.

The Regulations will be the ‘nuts and bolts’ governing professional contests in BC as they can address the following:

(a) prescribing the requirements that a corporation must meet to be eligible for an administrative agreement under section 6 [administrative agreement];

(b) establishing criteria for the purposes of section 8 (2) (b) [power of corporation to set and retain fees];

(c) prescribing other activities for which a licence is required;

(d) respecting licences, including, without limitation, prescribing

(i) information, authorizations and records that must be provided on application for a licence,

(ii) eligibility criteria,

(iii) terms and conditions of licences, and

(iv) forms of licences;

(e) respecting event permits, including, without limitation, prescribing

(i) information, authorizations and records that must be provided on application for an event permit,

(ii) eligibility criteria,

(iii) terms and conditions of event permits, and

(iv) forms of event permits;

(f) respecting security in relation to event permits, including, without limitation, prescribing

(i) the amount, or maximum amount, of security that may be required,

(ii) the forms of the security that may be provided, and

(iii) the circumstances under which the security may be realized;

(g) requiring event permit holders to have insurance for a professional contest or exhibition, including, without limitation, establishing the amounts of insurance required;

(h) respecting records, books and accounts to be kept by holders of licences and event permits;

(i) requiring holders of licences and event permits to provide information to the commissioner at the times and in the manner directed by the commissioner;

(j) respecting the duties of persons promoting, conducting or holding, matchmaking for, acting as seconds for, refereeing or judging professional contests or exhibitions;

(k) establishing standards for refereeing, judging or matchmaking for professional contests or exhibitions;

(l) regulating or prohibiting the use of specified equipment during weigh-ins and professional contests or exhibitions;

(m) respecting the safety of participants, officials and others at professional contests or exhibitions;

(n) respecting medical examinations for professional athletes and the availability of medical assistance during professional contests or exhibitions;

(o) providing for the drug and alcohol testing of professional athletes on a random basis or otherwise;

(p) regulating the conduct of professional athletes and other participants in professional contests or exhibitions;

(q) requiring that the officials for a professional contest or exhibition be designated by the commissioner;

(r) respecting the payment of officials who participate in a professional contest or exhibition, including, without limitation, prescribing the amounts officials must be paid.


I followed up with Bill Bennett, BC’s current Minister of Sport about when the Regulations will be in force.  He responded that they are expected to be established “soon”.

Bill Bennett exchange re MMA Regulations

I would expect that these regulations will be out before the Spring election but this remains to be seen.  I will continue to keep an eye on these developments.

With the recent introduction of BC’s Athletic Commissioner Act the BC Government needs to create a Province Wide Athletic Commissioner to regulate “professional contests or exhibitions” .

Yesterday the BC Government announced a cabinet shuffle appointing Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett as the Province’s new Minister of Sport.  BC’s Athletic Commission will now fall on Mr. Bennett’s watch.   I will continue to track the progress of this Commission and post updates as they develop.

As expected, Bill 50, BC’s Athletic Commissioner Act passed Third Reading today and will now become law.  You can click here and here for my past posts on this Bill.

You can click here (and scroll down to 1440) to read the BC Legislature’s Committee Hearing regarding the legislation.

A few points of interest from today’s hearing;  First Ida Chong, BC’s  Minister of Sport confirmed the legislation does not apply to fake contests such as WWE style wrestling stating “Wrestling is not considered a professional contest as such, because it has a predetermined result. I hate to shatter people’s opinions of it, but apparently that’s the situation.

The Minister was also questioned about the gap the legislation creates on the amateur side but notwithstanding this the legislation has passed.  I should note out of fairness to the BC Government that this gap does not arise from Bill 50 itself but rather from Canadian Senate Bill S-209.  In any event, here is the exchange:

G. Gentner: “The commissioner is responsible for the following…,” and it lists what they are — professional contests, etc. I look at Ontario and other legislation, and it also mentions amateur jurisdictions. Can the minister explain why this legislation does not look at amateur contests as well?

Hon. I. Chong: In British Columbia I would say, then, we perhaps have somewhat of a different model. We have provincial sports organizations who oversee amateur sport. So this provincial athletic commissioner would only regulate and oversee professional sports contests.

G. Gentner: Well, therefore, if you’re not defining “amateur,” I’d like to know…. If you are talking about professionals in the combative sports, what is the age criteria?


Hon. I. Chong: There is no prescribed age limit

HSE – 20120531 PM 021/BMG/1510

Hon. I. Chong: There is no prescribed age limit, if that was the question that the member was asking, but I just want to go back to his other question. He mentioned Ontario with respect to oversight of the amateur sports, and I’m advised by staff that Ontario…. Their athletic commissioner does not deal with the amateur sports side. It is the professional contests of exhibitions as I understand it.

The Commission Rules are expected to come out in the Fall of 2012.

Today BC’s proposed Athletic Commissioner Act has passed Second Reading which means this Bill is one step closer to becoming law.  I have previously discussed this new proposed law here.

You can click here and scroll down to section 1550 to read the Legislative debate about Bill 50.  There appears to be little doubt that this Bill will become law as the Government has the necessary majority and even the opposition critic’s comments include the following positive remarks “You know, I somewhat applaud the government for going here with this bill, simply because in many ways it’s necessary.

I will post a further update once this Bill passes Third Reading and receives Royal Assent (the final steps for a Bill to become a Law).

I previously discussed that the BC Government has introduced sensible legislation seeking to create an Athletic Commissioner who will be tasked with regulating professional MMA and other Striking Sports on a Province wide basis.

I am following this matter and today had a chance to review the Government’s comments on the Floor of BC’s Legislature when Bill 50 was first introduced.  For the sake of convenience I reproduce these here:


Hon. I. Chong presented a message from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor: a bill entitled Athletic Commissioner Act.

Hon. I. Chong: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill 50 be read for the first time now.

Motion approved.

Mr. Speaker: Continue, Minister.

Hon. I. Chong: This bill would provide for the establishment of a provincial athletic commissioner to regulate and supervise professional boxing, kickboxing and other similar sporting events, including mixed martial arts. Once established, the commissioner’s primary focus would be to ensure consistent application of safety rules for participants in professional contests. This approach will replace local government commissions that currently require and regulate these types of events with a centralized regulatory body ensuring consistency across the province.

This legislation would not apply to amateur sporting contests. The duties of the commissioner would be to ensure a consistent standard of qualifications and safety protocols for all participants and officials through a uniform licensing and permitting framework. It would ensure compliance with the proposed act and its regulations through the use of suspension or cancellation of licences and event permits as well as administrative penalties.

The benefit of having a provincial athletic commissioner would be that every professional boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts or similar event would be subject to the same rules and regulations whether it’s being held in Vancouver, Nanaimo, Vernon or anywhere else in the province.


Since sports such as kickboxing and mixed martial arts are very popular and are taking place without a consistent regulatory framework, it makes sense to be proactive about creating this position to increase the safety of athletes and officials as well as to provide certainty for communities and the industry.

I move that the Athletic Commissioner Act be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

Bill 50, Athletic Commissioner Act, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

I will continue to follow the development of this law and post relevant updates at this blog as they develop.

With Bill 50 expected to become law soon in British Columbia, Professional MMA will benefit from consistent standards Province wide

Once a Provincial Athletic Commissioner is appointed standards will need to be designed that will apply to MMA competitions in BC pursuant to the Commissioner’s obligations under Section 4 of the Athletic Commissioner Act and more specifically pursuant to section 46(2)(m) of the Act.  When setting the standard both fighter safety and industry consistency will need to be taken into account.  Both of these factors point to the adoption of the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.

The Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts have been widely utilized over the past decade and have demonstrated good results in protecting fighters.  In perhaps the most comprehensive study into this issue, the 2007 Johns Hopkins Study “INCIDENCE OF INJURY IN PROFESSIONAL MIXED MARTIAL ARTS COMPETITIONS” published in the Journal of Sport Science and Medicine concluded that under the Unified Rules “The injury rate in MMA competitions is compatible with other combat sports involving striking.”. 

Of note, this study highlighted that the vast majority of injuries were of a resolvable nature (with facial lacerations making up nearly 50% of the reported injuries) and that traumatic brain injury rates were far lower than in regulated professional boxing noting the following “As opposed to professional boxing, MMA competitions have a mechanism that enables the participant to stop the competition at any time.  The “tap out” is the second most common means of ending an MMA competition…(which) is thought to help explain a knockout proportion in MMA competitions that is almost half of the reported 11.3% of professional boxing matches in Nevada

Moving on to consistency, there is certainly no greater accepted standard for MMA contests in North America than the Unified Rules.  With the Association of Boxing Commissions unanimously adopting this standard in 2009 BC’s MMA Regulations will have little reason to go outside this standard.

Last but not least, if the purpose of this legislative overhaul is to court the UFC back to British Columbia, giving the UFC the fighting regulations they are most familiar with certainly makes sense.

Leaving aside the fact that professional MMA is currently technically illegal in BC, an additional problem is that professional MMA events in British Columbia are subject to inconsistent regulatory requirements.

The reason being that local municipalities are allowed to form their own Athletic Commissions based on the power given to the them by section 143 of BC’s Community Charter (or in the case of Vancouver by Part XIX of the Vancouver Charter).

Fortunately, the Provincial Government has taken a meaningful step to remedy this with the introduction of Bill 50.  This Bill, introduced earlier this week in the Legislature, seeks to create a Province-wide Athletic Commissioner who will be responsible for the following:

(a) the regulation and supervision of professional contests or exhibitions in accordance with this Act and the regulations;

(b) licensing and permitting under this Act;

(c) the enforcement of this Act and the regulations.

Importantly, section 50 of the Bill specifically speaks to repealing the power of Vancouver and other municipalities to create their own athletic commissions.

In short this will replace the myriad of different regulations local municipalities have created for professional MMA fights.  This will create consistency which will benefit both participants and hosts of these events.

It is worth noting that Vancouver, while being stripped of the ability to create their own Athletic Commission, will still retain the right to veto MMA events if they wish because the Vancouver Council will be given the discretion to “prohibit a professional contest or exhibition, including a professional contest or exhibition for which an event permit is required under the Athletic Commissioner Act.”

I should note that as of today’s date this Bill is just that, a Bill.  It has not formally become law although Third Reading is expected shortly.  I will provide an updated post once this Bill becomes formal law.