Nebraska Athletic Commission
Effective July 8, 2020
This document has been compiled with the assistance and advice of combat sports doctors, including standards adopted by the Association of Ringside Physicians. The Nebraska Athletic Commission (NAC) will continue to revise the contents of this document to reflect best practices for combatting the transmission of COVID-19 as based on the most up to date medical and scientific information. Promoters are encouraged to check the NAC website for any updates.
July 8, 2020
To All Mixed Martial Arts and Professional Boxing Promoters:
On June 15th, 2020, Governor Pete Ricketts issued an 89-county Phase III Directed Health Measure (DHM) which, among other things, allows for the resumption of contact sports beginning on July 1. In recognition of this important date, the Nebraska Athletic Commission (NAC) has established new safety protocols designed to allow the resumption of mixed martial art (MMA) and boxing events while protecting athletes, event officials, and others from the risk of Covid-19 transmission.
Covid-19 is a serious health matter that requires proactive measures among all combat sports participants in order to conduct events safely. The NAC expects and requires each promoter to fully understand, communicate, and enforce these rules without exception. The NAC further requires each promoter to conduct weigh-ins and bouts in an orderly and structured manner. To that end, any of the following may result in the promoter’s immediate suspension from conducting future events:
(1) Any willful failure of the promoter to communicate these requirements to contestants or event staff;
(2) Failure of the promoter to exert control over contestants or event staff;
(3) Any willful disregard shown by the promoter to these requirements;
(4) Any failure of the promoter to adhere to NAC instructions; and
(5) Any failure of the promoter to communicate essential information to the NAC.
In short, organized chaos is not an acceptable model for conducting events during times of a global health pandemic.
This document has been compiled with the assistance and advice of combat sports doctors, including standards adopted by the Association of Ringside Physicians. While this does represent a significant change to current NAC practices, it is meant to be a measured, fair, and most of all, an effective approach to the on-going pandemic. We view the resumption of contact sports as a positive development and look forward to resuming our role as regulators of MMA and boxing events. Likewise, we look forward to your continued cooperation and assistance and believe that by working together to achieve success in the combat sports field, Nebraska can prove to be a model for other states.
Aaron J. Hendry
State Athletic Commissioner
Nebraska Athletic Commission
As used in this document, the term ‘event personnel’ means the promoter and all persons working for or on behalf of the promoter for purposes of conducting a combat sports event, including employees, volunteers, contractors, and subcontractors. The term also includes all persons hired, assigned, contracted, or subcontracted for filming, recording, broadcasting, or announcing the event. The term does not include physicians, referees, timekeepers, judges, NAC staff, venue employees, security staff, credentialed media (except as provided above), EMTs, paramedics, or spectators.
The following medical protocols are now required IN ADDITION TO all other NAC requirements;
• Prior to reserving a calendar date, the promoter must receive approval from the local health department for the event.
• Prior to reserving a calendar date, the promoter must personally complete and submit a Pre-Bout Covid-19 Protocol Checklist. This is available on the NAC website, athcomm.nebraska.gov.
• Events must adhere to venue capacity restrictions as contained within the applicable directed health measure (DHM). As of the date of publication, an indoor event must be limited to 50% of the venue’s rated occupancy, not to exceed 10,000 people. An outdoor event must be limited to 75% of the venue’s rated occupancy, not to exceed 10,000 people. Promoters must check with their local health departments for current information.
• Not more than 10 bouts may be scheduled at any event.
• The last bout must start prior to 11:00 pm local time to allow all equipment to be properly sanitized following the event.
• Each scheduled contestant must provide the NAC with his or her negative test results from a Covid-19 antigen test conducted via nasal swab, also known as a PCR test. This test must have occurred NO LATER THAN 7 DAYS from the date of the weigh-in. The results of the test must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 402-595-1631. Contestants who do not have negative results documented in the above manner will not be permitted to attend the weigh-in and will be ineligible for competition.
• After taking the PCR test and until the scheduled event, each contestant must self-isolate, except that each contestant may continue to (1) attend work, (2) gather with family members or close relations in a non-public setting, (3) attend any necessary and appropriate training, (4) shop for grocery items or other essentials, (5) attend any medical appointment, and (6) see to any matter involving the care of a dependent.
• Weigh-ins must be conducted in an orderly and structured manner.
• All weigh-ins must be conducted on the day before the scheduled event.
• The promoter may attend the weigh-in OR the promoter may designate one representative. For purposes of clarification, attending medical personnel do not count towards the promoter’s one-person limit.
• All persons at the weigh-in must wear a mask.
• The weigh-in must be conducted at a facility where the NAC and/or promoter has the ability to limit and control who enters the weigh-in area. Weigh-ins cannot be conducted at bars, restaurants, or other places generally open to the public.
• The promoter must assign each contestant a specific weigh-in time with not less than 5 minutes between each contestant (i.e. Fighter A at 6:00 pm, Fighter B at 6:05 pm, etc.). All individual weigh-in times must also be communicated to the NAC in a single document (e.g. one WORD document, one email, one spreadsheet, etc.) at least 12 hours before the first scheduled contestant weigh-in.
• Not more than two hours may separate the first scheduled contestant weigh-in from the last scheduled contestant weigh-in.
• Contestants who do not show at their scheduled weigh-in time may be declared ineligible by the NAC.
• Contestants must wait in their vehicle until their scheduled time and then wait by the door. They will enter the weigh-in room only when summoned. The contestant may not bring any guest, including any corner person.
• The promoter must post a sign on the door to the weigh-in room instructing all contestants to (1) wear a mask, (2) remain in their vehicles until their appointed time, and (3) to then wait by the door until summoned.
• The promoter must provide for and assign an independent medical professional (such as a registered nurse) to take the temperature of each contestant prior to each contestant entering the weigh-in room. It is NOT acceptable for temperatures to be taken by the promoter or by a promoter employee.
• If the contestant has a temperature at or above 100.4 degrees, the contestant is ineligible and the bout is cancelled. No substitute bouts are allowed.
• In addition to the usual medical documentation, the contestant will be required to complete a Covid-19 screening assessment. The contestant may be disqualified based on the results or if the contestant is found to have falsified any answer.
Day of Event Requirements
• All event personnel must wear a mask at all times when at the event premises. The NAC may provide limited exceptions for construction personnel and announcers.
• To avoid requiring contestants and corners to crowd together, the NAC highly recommends that the promoter allow for staggered arrival times. Contestants who are scheduled for later in the event should be allowed to arrive at a later time.
• To encourage staggered arrival times and to avoid requiring contestants and corners to crowd together, the NAC will not conduct its usual pre-fight meeting. Instead, copies of referee and NAC instructions will be provided to the promoter for distribution to the contestants.
• The promoter must provide for and assign an independent medical professional (such as a registered nurse) to take the temperature of each contestant, each designated corner person, and all event personnel immediately upon their arrival at the event premises. It is NOT acceptable for temperatures to be taken by the promoter or by a promoter employee.
• If a contestant OR his or her corner has a temperature at or above 100.4 degrees, the contestant is ineligible and the bout will be cancelled. No substitute bouts are allowed.
• Any person as described above who has a temperature at or above 100.4 degrees must immediately leave the premises. No bout may be conducted as long they remain inside the event building.
• Pre-event “fighter parades,” including any event that has non-paired contestants gathering in or near the fighting area are prohibited.
• Only contestants, medical professionals, event officials, NAC officials, and one corner per fighter are allowed in the backstage fighter area. The promoter may also designate up to two persons (including the promoter) as having access to the backstage area.
• The promoter must ensure that at least 6’ of space separates each contestant and corner pairing within the backstage fighter area.
• All persons in the backstage fighter area must wear a mask at all times.
• The NAC recognizes that the promoter has no ability to regulate the behavior of event officials (physicians, referees, judges, and timekeepers), inspectors, and other persons who are under the authority of the State Athletic Commissioner. Accordingly, the NAC will be issuing separate instructions to these individuals to wear a mask at all times and to have their temperature checked by the on-site independent medical professional.
• The area immediately adjacent to the ring, octagon, cage, or other fighting area (hereafter referred to as ‘the ringside area’) is reserved for event officials (judges, referees, timekeepers, and physicians), NAC officials, and essential event personnel only.
• No spectator or promoter guest is allowed in the ringside area. Media personnel must be assigned to a designated area outside of the ringside area, excluding camera operators and other necessary technicians.
• To the greatest extent possible, the promoter must provide seating accommodations in the ringside area to allow for at least 6’ of space between each individual.
• All persons in the ringside area must wear a mask at all times. This includes each contestant’s designated corner person.
• The entire ringside area must be physically separated from the spectator area by a contiguous railing or other similar barrier. The contiguous railing or other similar barrier must be situated at an appropriate distance from the ring or octagon to allow for the unobstructed movement of all personnel within the ringside area.
• The first row of spectators must be situated not less than 8’ from the railing or similar barrier.
• At least one public announcement must instruct spectators not to stand within 6’ of the ringside railing or barrier. The promoter must ensure that any spectator who repeatedly disregards this rule is escorted off the premises.
• The NAC recommends that the event announcer remain at a designated table and not enter the fighting area.
• Contestant family members or other relations are prohibited from entering the ringside area or fighting area at any time pre or post bout.
• Each contestant will be allowed one designated corner person only. Each corner person must wear a mask at all times.
• To limit interaction with NAC staff, the designated corner person will not need to be licensed. The NAC will not provide corners with wristbands.
• Each contestant must take off his or her mask immediately prior to entering the fighting area. Each contestant must resume wearing a mask upon the conclusion of his or her bout.
• Upon the conclusion of each contestant’s bout, the contestant may not re-enter the backstage fighter area except as absolutely necessary. The contestant must leave this area as soon as possible.
• After each bout, and between rounds as instructed by the referee, the promoter must see to it that the canvas and other potentially soiled area is cleaned by use of a hospital grade disinfectant, including a solution consisting of at least 10% bleach or at least 70% alcohol.
• Towels may not be used for multiple bouts and must be discarded following each end of bout cleaning. The promoter must provide at least 10 towels for cleaning purposes at each event.
The NAC encourages promoters to take any additional steps as deemed necessary to protect the health and safety of all participants and to adopt measures more stringent than contained in this document when appropriate. Also note that the NAC will be taking a zero tolerance approach in this matter. Any violation of these requirements will result in the delay, cancellation, or premature end of an event and may result in the violator’s suspension from conducting or participating in future regulated activities.
Promoter Date Approval Checklist