On Sunday, February 26, 2017, organizers of a jiu-jitsu tournament postponed the event after being informed that participants would be arrested.
The competition included 240 registrants as young as nine. In contrast, the city allowed a dozen amateur tournaments last year, causing organizers to be puzzled by this reaction.
Part of the confusion may be linked to a legal opinion targeted at Japanese jiu-jitsu, which includes kicks and punches. Under the city’s codes, events that include kicks and punches are defined as “prize fights” and illegal.
Benoit Boisselle, a police department spokesman, said the department would have had no choice but to arrest participants if it had gone as planned due to Article 83 of Montreal’s Criminal Code.
“After careful consideration, the Canada Pro Jiu-Jitsu committee and the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation has decided to postpone the Canada Pro Jiu-Jitsu Championships that was scheduled to take place at the Centre Pierre-Charbonneau this Sunday, the 26th of February 2017.
This Friday at 6:00 PM, an official complaint was launched to the SPVM. The SPVM, acting on an internal legal memo that included Jiu-Jitsu as a combat sport, i.e. having strikes (“an encounter or fight with fists, hands or feet”), according to section 83 of the Canadian Criminal Code, informed the Abu Dhabi Pro Jiu-Jitsu committee that they would proceed to enforce the section to arrest any participant in the tournament. Furthermore, they informed the committee that the Municipal Prosecutor of Montreal intended to prosecute every such case to court. It should be noted that the commander of the SPVM in charge of the complaint did not know that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) was different from “Jiu-Jitsu” and did not have any strikes in its matches.
The Canada Pro Jiu-Jitsu committee, the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation and numerous members of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu community attempted to convince the SPVM of the difference between BJJ and Jiu-Jitsu from the time of the complaint. There were vigorous efforts and resources deployed to explain that section 83 of the Canadian Criminal Code did not apply to BJJ, however, due to the tight time frame between the time of the complaint and the event, there was no time to engage with the SPVM’s legal department or to proceed with other alternatives solutions. We tried every avenue possible until there was no other alternative.
As such, due to the distinct probability of police of arrest of competitors of the tournament if the event were to proceed tomorrow and the fact that many competitors are non-residents of Quebec and Canada, the committee must regretfully postpone the tournament to another the postponement to another venue next Sunday, the 5th of March 2017 with possibilities of weighing in Saturday or the morning of the tournament.
On behalf of the Canada Pro Jiu-Jitsu committee and the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, we would like to apologize to all the athletes, coaches, teammates, and families affected by this decision. It was not a decision that was taken lightly. However, considering that our first priority is the security of our competitors and secondly the reputation of our great sport, we believed that there no other alternative to the postponement of the tournament.”
However, the event’s organizers had only planned to feature the Brazilian form of jiu-jitsu; therefore, there were no kicks and punches.
Organizers have rescheduled the event for March 5, 2017 and hope the police department will allow the event to continue. If there are threats of more arrests, there is a backup plan to move it to Gatineau, where the police department has already given organizers permission to hold the event.
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