COVID-19 sidelines several MMA-style events in South Dakota, but Sturgis rally boxing is still on

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Athletic Commission on Thursday indefinitely postponed mixed-martial arts matches set for this spring.

But the panel chose to hold off deciding what do about a boxing-style event scheduled for August 8 during the Sturgis motorcycle rally and races.

Commission members don’t know how long South Dakota will be under the COVID-19 emergency order Governor Kristi Noem issued March 13.

The current forecast calls for the respiratory illness to peak in mid-June.

Since the first cases were reported last month, South Dakota through Wednesday had 447 positives, 27 hospitalizations, six deaths, 161 recoveries and 6,700 negatives.

It’s affecting fighting events the commission regulates.

The promoter decided against going forward with a MMA-style event that was scheduled for April 17 in Sioux Falls at the Sanford Pentagon.

The Wheel Jam gathering at the State Fairgrounds in Huron has been canceled, leading the promoter to postpone a MMA-style event that was set for June 4.

The promoter for a MMA-style event in Flandreau was still working on a date but that too has been set aside indefinitely.

As for the Sturgis boxing event, it is still “on schedule, at this point,” because it’s outside the April 12 date the emergency order expires, according to Jennifer Stalley, the commission’s executive secretary.

Stalley said she expects the governor to extend the order. “Obviously it’s all subject to change,” she said.

The commission agreed Stalley should send a letter to the Sturgis promoter stating the additional condition that the event must comply with any state order, state law, local ordinance or federal guideline regarding COVID-19.

“And reschedule as necessary,” commissioner Richard Little of Spearfish said.

Commissioner Margaret Gillespie of Alcester suggested the letter also should tell the promoter to stay in touch with Stalley.

“I will remind them they need to be communicating with us,” Stalley said. 

The commission began discussing what regulations might be needed because of the virus.

 “Obviously what we’re seeing right now, in the heat of COVID 19, commissions are not holding events and you’re seeing restrictions on things,” Stalley said.

Chairman Michael Kilmer of Spearfish said the panel was lucky to have medical representation on the east and west ends of South Dakota.

“I think as a commission we’re ahead of the game,” Kilmer said.

Little, an orthopedic surgeon, said he expects COVID-19 to come in waves every six months for the next 18 to 24 months.

“We wait to see what we need to do as this evolves,” Stalley said.

Concluded Kilmer, “We’ll follow it day to day, just like everybody else.” 

The governor late Thursday afternoon signed an extension of the order to run through the end of May.

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