The new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has shaken up the world of sports with cancellations and postponements happening on all fronts. In combat sports, the same logic was applied despite initial resistance.
In mixed martial arts specifically, Bahrain-based promotion BRAVE Combat Federation has led the way in this matter by postponing three events and starting a worldwide awareness campaign #BRAVECombatsCovid19 with the help of its roster of fighters who have become ambassadors in their communities and abroad. It is so far the only campaign organized by a global MMA organization.
Several physicians and sports doctors around the world are advising that no sporting events should take place until further notice. It is validation for BRAVE CF’s exemplary conduct throughout this ordeal.
The Association of Ringside Physicians (ARP) has been quick to recommend the indefinite suspension of all combat sports events in a statement that can be read on its website. The group said any event taking place at this time will put everyone involved under unnecessary risk of infection and transmission of COVID-19.
“It is our recommendation that all combat sporting events be postponed until further notice,” the ARP said in a statement. “This includes any and all events, regardless of the number of people involved. Any combat sport taking place during this global pandemic places the athletes, officials, and anyone else involved in the event under unnecessary risk of infection and transmission of COVID-19.”
ARP president Dr. Donald Muzzi explained why combat sports in particular should not host events in the midst of this pandemic. He told ESPN, “A guy goes in let’s say for a cut or a shoulder injury or something.”
“He’s gonna get put on the back burner because they’ve got much more important things to worry about,” Muzzi continued. “(There is) another thing. That’s another chance for exposure from an ER that has potential patients with that virus.”
In India, physicians and doctors have warned that bringing back sports early could have disastrous effects. Sports injury surgeon Akash Sabharwal told news agency Press Trust of India (PTI), “I have no doubt that sport is great but at the moment, the focus is on saving lives and having sports events, which attract large crowds, could prove to be disastrous.”
Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) chairwoman and former Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) employee Margaret Goodman has pointed the finger at the Ultimate Fighting Championship for wanting to host an event on May 9, 2020. She explained, “You can sequester athletes but inspectors, doctors, referees, commissioners carry risks to athletes and vice versa.”