Quebec — Canada’s boxing stronghold — is facing a potential ban on combat sports for the foreseeable future.
According to boxing promoter Camille Estephan, the Ministry of Health and Services in Quebec is considering a ban on all combat sports until a coronavirus vaccination or treatment becomes available to the general population.
Estephan, Montreal’s leading boxing promoter and owner of Eye of the Tiger Management, revealed the news during an interview with local media, and even suggested that the local boxing scene may be doomed if such a policy is enacted.
“Like hockey, combat sports have been an integral part of Quebec culture for several decades. Whether we think of Georges St-Pierre, Lucian Bute or David Lemieux, our Quebec athletes contribute to the influence of the province around the world, both professionally and at the Olympic level,” Estephan said. “The decision that Dr. Horacio Arruda is about to take will cause irreparable damage to the sport as well as to our boxers who will be forced to be inactive for too long and who will be stripped of their belts and world rankings.”
In June 2020, Estephan’s promotion submitted its COVID-19 protocols to the Quebec government, where they identified the health measures they planned to implement during any events. Despite the detailed guidelines, the Ministry of Health and Services in Quebec remains unwilling to take the risk involved with hosting combat sports events.
“We have been proactive and have carefully worked out our recovery plan by studying what was being done elsewhere in the world within other professional boxing or ultimate fighting organizations which, for their part, have already returned to action for some time. We have tried many times to establish a dialogue and work in concert with Public Health, but it must be admitted that there seems to be a prejudice against boxing since they do not want to hear anything and have no valid justification for explaining such a decision.” Estephan added.
Quebec’s official government website specifically mentions combat sports as a banned activity that will require “adaptation” to maintain physical distancing.
For the moment, physical or sporting activities requiring direct physical contact during a confrontation in a combat sport are not authorized (e.g. combat situations in certain sports such as wrestling, and boxing in certain martial arts , such as judo and karate).
Adaptations specific to these physical or sports activities may be required to limit the presence of prolonged contact between participants. Thus, the followers of these sports could indulge in it by resorting to forms of training or to adaptations to the regulations which allow the respect of the physical distancing in force.
The government is gradually carrying out a resumption to observe the evolution of the health situation. As soon as we can, we will announce the resumption of these activities.
Quebec has 56,079 confirmed cases of COVID-19 while 5,590 people have died. The francophone province is the worst-hit region in the entire country, accounting for more than half of Canada’s confirmed COVID-19 cases. Ontario has 36,178 confirmed cases, while Alberta has 8,436 and British Columbia has 2,990. The remainder of Canada’s provinces and territories amount to less than 2,500 confirmed cases.
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