Karate competitions now legal in Quebec after Criminal Code conundrum

Karaté Québec was forced to postpone the Quebec Cup earlier this month after provincial lawyers called to say such competitions are illegal. (Nick Brizuela/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Karaté Québec was forced to postpone the Quebec Cup earlier this month after provincial lawyers called to say such competitions are illegal. (Nick Brizuela/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Karate competitions are no longer against the law in Quebec and, after a temporary shut down due to a legal oversight, competitions can resume, according to Karaté Québec.

"It is a great relief for the entire Quebec karate community," said the organization's president, Stéphane Rivest, in a news release.

After pressure from athletes, the province passed a decree exempting the sport from section 83 (2) the Criminal Code, ensuring competitions could continue to be held.

About two weeks ago, Karaté Québec announced the Quebec Cup was postponed due to "confusion in the interpretation and application of the Criminal Code'' that makes karate competitions illegal without a provincial decree.

The sport no longer had an exemption under the law since karate is not on the Olympic program for the 2024 Paris Games.

While practising the sport is legal, the removal of the Olympic exemption and lack of a decree means a competition could expose organizers, stakeholders and athletes involved in so-called prizefights to the risk of punishable offences, the association said.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education said at the time that the leisure and sports safety department was working with Karaté Québec to find a solution.

But efforts to rectify the situation were slowed by the provincial election and then the wait for a new cabinet to be announced.

Rivest had urged the government to act quickly so as to allow athletes to compete and prepare for larger tournaments like the Winter Games of Canada 2023. There are three new tournaments on the schedule for November now that the legal matter is settled.

"The postponement of some competitions came at a crucial time in qualifying and still, you strictly followed the instructions," Karaté Québec says in a Facebook post.

"Thank you for this discipline that has no equal to the values of our sport."