Vancouver is "passing the buck" on sanctioning mixed martial arts (MMA) events in the city, say advocates, after city hall voted to hold off on lifting a ban on the growing combat sport.
Bill Mahood, a mixed martial arts athlete, promoter and manager, had hoped the city would lift an 18-month-old ban yesterday.
Instead, city hall is urging the province to create a governing body for MMA first, while it looks at ways of limiting its legal liabilities should it sanction the sport.
"I don't understand why [the city doesn't] want to step up to the plate," Mahood said.
"This is a growing sport in Vancouver and I think they're just passing the buck."
City hall placed a moratorium on the sport in September 2007, unsure if its Vancouver Athletic Commission should be responsible for regulating the sport locally. VAC member Dr. Rajindar Sandhu yesterday had urged council to lift the ban.
But the Vision Vancouver-dominated council says it wants to minimize legal risk to the city first.
"Ultimately, we want to put pressure on the province [to regulate it]," said Mayor Gregor Robertson. "We're not closing the door. We're staying open-minded on this."
But opposition NPA Coun. Suzanne Anton opposed the delay.
"This is where we were in September 2007," she said. "This simply defers and defers."
Some urged council to sanction MMA for economic reasons. Events such as the Ultimate Fighting Championships have brought in millions to other cities.