Government is taking steps to clearly define the roles and responsibilities when it comes to staging professional and amateur combat sport in Nova Scotia.
Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Leo Glavine today, Sept. 28, introduced the Combat Sports Authority Act which will modernize the current Boxing Authority Act by bringing the supervision and regulations around combat sports, including boxing and mixed martial arts, in line with the Criminal Code of Canada.
“This legislation reflects what the authority has been practicing the past several years, and brings clarity to how both professional and amateur combative sport is governed in our province,” said Mr. Glavine. “We have consulted and listened to those in the industry and are making the necessary changes that will help to ensure the continued safety of athletes.”
With the emergence of mixed martial arts (MMA), the boxing authority has seen a large increase in sanctioning requests beyond traditional boxing matches.
In June 2013 section 83 of the Criminal Code dealing with prohibition of prize fights was amended to legalize mixed martial arts and to ensure that it does not prohibit legitimate amateur combat sports. Prior to the amendment boxing was the only exemption to the prize fighting offence.
The amendments provide clarity that the authority governs professional boxing and all other combat sports designated by the regulations. The authority’s role in amateur sport will be specified by order-in-council which will specify whether the authority or a provincial sport organization has authority over each amateur combat sport.
A federal-provincial-territorial working group on safety in combat sport has provided recommendations for ministers on standards across Canada in amateur combat sports with the intention to increase safety.
“It’s great that government is making the changes that are needed to ensure rules and regulations are in place to protect combatants in all the different disciplines of combat sports,” said Mickey MacDonald, incoming chair of the new Combat Sports Authority.
The authority will have up to nine member positions that are appointed by governor-in-council. It regulates the licensing of contestants and promoters, annual medical examinations, medical procedures and suspensions, officials, referees and ringside doctors, premises, facilities and equipment and other procedures and protocol for operating a combat sport event.