The Association of Ringside Physicians (ARP) is officially loosening its stance on the current coronavirus restrictions for combat sports, per a statement released by the organization on Saturday (via ESPN).
The announcement comes less than one month after the ARP recommended that all combat sports should be postponed in the light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The advisement was not taken lightly as ARP is responsible for educating, training and certifying ringside physicians around the world.
Now, as many areas in the world begin to flatten the coronavirus curve and seek a return to normalcy, ARP is relaxing its views on current combat sports restrictions as long as promotions are able to host events with extra safety and health precautions in place.
“Although it is impossible to eliminate all risk of COVID19, precautions can be made to reduce the risk of viral transmission,” the ARP statement read. “Many athletic commissions, organizations and promotions are developing new guidelines to limit exposure to all involved at events, including athletes, their teams, commission personnel and support staff.
“Combat sports event procedures regarding COVID19 precautions should be actively developed, regularly reviewed and modified based on the evolving knowledge and scientific evidence put forth by public health authorities. These guidelines should also involve local and regional public health officials as well as infectious disease experts and epidemiologists.”
While Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is already set for its awaited return with UFC 249 on May 9 from Jacksonville, Fla., the new ARP recommendations could pave the way for other major combat organizations to return to action. Of course, those promotions would have to set forth extensive safety precautions to stage any sort of event, which is what UFC is doing in accordance with the Florida State Boxing Commission and local health officials.
If UFC is able to safely host UFC 249 — along with scheduled events on May 13 and May 16 from the same location — it could open the door for the rest of the combat sports world.