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Karate Matches Are Now Legal Again In Quebec After They Were Accidentally Made A Crime

People who participated in karate competitions could have been charged with a crime.

Senior Editor
People practicing karate in a gym.

People practicing karate in a gym.

Karate matches are once again authorized in Quebec after a decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had the unintended effect of making competitions a crime in the province.

Under section 83 of the Criminal Code, anyone who "engages as a principal in a prize fight" is "guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction." There's an exception, however, for "[contests] between amateur athletes in a combative sport with fists, hands or feet [...] if the sport is on the programme of the International Olympic Committee."

That meant that once the IOC dropped karate from the 2024 Olympics, karate competitions automatically became a banned practice.

The Criminal Code specifies that provincial governments can also create exemptions. But Quebec had not added karate to its list of approved combat sports before the IOC's decision.

That meant that, on paper, people who participated in karate tournaments could have been charged with a crime, according to the provincial minister responsible for sports, Isabelle Charest.

At least two karate competitions were postponed as a result, the province's karate federation, Karate Québec, said.

The provincial government finally rectified the situation on Friday, when it approved a decree to exclude karate from section 83.

"The IOC's decision to withdraw karate from the Olympic program of the 2024 Games has created a series of administrative and judicial imbroglios that amateur athletes and their federation did not deserve," Charest said in a press release.

Her office also promised a "management framework for all combat sports," presumably so that something like this never happens again. That framework is supposed to come out in the winter of 2023.

    Thomas MacDonald
    Senior Editor
    Thomas MacDonald is a Senior Editor for MTL Blog focused on Montreal public transit and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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