It’s hard to imagine that martial arts events as we once knew them may be forever different. The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered the way we train; will it also alter the way we compete? Let’s take a look at the different aspects of martial arts events that may be changed moving forward.
The Way Equipment is Sanitized
Martial arts events are built around fighting and competition surfaces — primarily cages, rings, and martial arts mats. In boxing, muay thai, and MMA, there may be an average of 10 fights per night on a single surface. Due to the likelihood of blood on the canvas or vinyl flooring during these events, the staff is accustomed to cleaning the surface between fights. However, wiping blood off different areas of the floor is different than fully wiping down and disinfecting the entire surface. In the case of tournament competitions, there are many rings or areas of mats, each of which have many competitions one after another, and the tournament depends on each match moving along at a good pace. Generally, mats are not sanitized or cleaned between each match unless there is blood to clean up, and asking the staff to clean each ring between each match would add a significant amount of time to the tournament.
The Number of Spectators Who Watch the Matches
Spectators are important part of martial arts competitions. At the highest levels, fans pay steep prices to watch their favorite fighters compete. Even at the lowest amateur competitions, family, friends, and teammates often pack the venue to cheer on the competitors. Spectators provide an important revenue source for the promotion putting on the event by way of ticket sales, concessions, and merchandise. To lose this revenue and rely on registration fees from competitors may prove to be untenable for many promotions.
Vendors May Not Sell as Much Merchandise
At most competitions, vendors can be found around the venue, selling merchandise, food, and other related offerings. Vendors work with the promotion to maximize their exposure to competitors and spectators, paying varying amounts for their floor space. Due to social distancing guidelines, it is likely events would be held without spectators or very limited spectators. It is also likely that the allowed number of competitors would be significantly reduced. With these much smaller numbers, there is a much lower chance that vendors would purchase a booth, further reducing revenue for the event.
More Changes May Come
There are many other factors and moving parts that go into producing a martial arts competition. Both athletes and promotions are eager to resume these events, but it remains to be seen what must be done to bring competitions back, and to keep them there.