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GAB restudies protocols


PhilBoxing.com



Mitra.

GAB chairman Baham Mitra said yesterday the government agency has submitted an 18-point proposal to the Department of Health for a set of interim medical protocols to stage professional sports in the event the government lifts the ban on “sports-related gatherings” under both ECQ and GCQ. Mitra said there’s no hurry to push for approval since no activities are allowed at this time. The impasse has also given GAB more time to modify its proposal, adopting certain measures that the WBC is instituting in a recently-issued circular for “closed boxing.”

GAB’s interim medical guidelines include disinfecting the venue before and after an event, temperature reading of all those entering the venue, providing hand sanitizers and masks, making sure food to be served is hygienically contained in individual packs, assuring proper ventilation, enforcing social distancing (six feet apart), providing an isolation area and evacuation facilities and requiring athletes to accomplish GAB Health Declaration Forms and COVID-19 test clearance.

In the WBC guidelines, no media will be accredited to cover events and no spectators will be permitted. Everyone in the venue will be required to wear masks, except fighters in the ring. Fighters will be sanitized topically with spray as will anyone entering the ring. Sanitation will also be done after the fight. A proposal to do on-line scoring by three judges is under study. Media interviews before and after a fight will be conducted on a virtual basis. Fights will be shown on pay-per-view, home TV or free internet.

“Millions of people depend economically on the performance of boxing activities and have been seriously affected,” said the WBC. “We believe that bringing home televised and live boxing matches will have a highly positive and beneficial impact on the well-being of the spectators, especially in this time of social distancing and health quarantine. We consider in a very serious and responsible way, the feasibility of carrying out boxing functions behind closed doors and with TV transmission adhering to strict sanitary control and following the guidelines established by world health organizations and the guidelines of local authorities.”

Since the pandemic outbreak, the first professional boxing show was staged in Wuppertal, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany last March 19 but it featured just three matches involving low-level club fighters with coverage on Facebook and ESPN Deportes. Last April 25, six fights were held at the 8,097-seat Alexis Arguello Gym in Managua, Nicaragua and only 800 fans were let in, sitting a seat apart from each other. Hand thermometers were used to check temperatures of everyone who entered the stadium. Masks were required except for fighters in the ring. The next day, a card of three bouts was held in Gimpo, South Korea, with sparse attendance.
Boxing was scheduled to return to Japan last April 5 with the Rookie of the Year Tournament but it’s been postponed indefinitely. A card was set at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo on May 2. The show has been reset to May 19 with no confirmation. In Poland, a heavyweight bout between Kevin Johnson and Mariusz Wach is slated on June 12. Las Vegas and the UK want to bring boxing back as soon as things normalize but when is a question mark.

Resuming sports-related activities prematurely is risky. The safety of athletes, officials and spectators must never be compromised. Strict medical protocols may be the new order but a sport like boxing thrives with a live audience, feeding on the energy of the crowd. Boxing won’t be the same without the fans in the venue. To keep the sport alive, interim health measures may be imposed as the WBC and GAB suggest but purses won’t be anywhere they were before. Until the vaccine comes, expect more difficult times for sports.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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