Ringside doctors call for combat sports' return

05 May 2020 | Sports

After calling for an indefinite ban on combat sports events in April, the Association of Ringside Physicians (ARP) wants coronavirus precautions to be developed with an eye to staging events.

In a weekend statement on the group's website, the doctors, who train and certify ringside boxing and mixed martial arts doctors worldwide, updated their stance based on the relaxing of stay-at-home requirements.

“Although it is impossible to eliminate all risk associated with COVID-19, precautions can be made to reduce the risk of viral transmission,” the statement said.

“Many athletic commissions, organisations and promotors are developing new guidelines to limit exposure to all involved at events, including athletes, their teams, commission personnel and support staff.”

Jacksonville fights

Sports worldwide have been shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.

But three Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) cards have been scheduled in Jacksonville, Florida – the first this Saturday, with others on 13 May and 16 May – all to be staged in an arena with television broadcast personnel but without spectators.

“Combat sports event procedures regarding COVID-19 precautions should be actively developed, regularly reviewed and modified based on the evolving knowledge and scientific evidence put forth by public health authorities,” the ARP said.


“These guidelines should also involve local and regional public health officials as well as infectious disease experts and epidemiologists.”

An executive order last month from Florida governor Ron DeSantis opened the door to hosting UFC events by giving essential services status to “employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience... if the location is closed to the general public”.

Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry called the UFC event plan, including health safeguards, a “safe and sensible” one.