MMA in Italy Under the Cornovirus Lockdown

An Interview with Italian MMA Federation President Saverio Longo

This month, Italy became the world’s centre of active Coronavirus cases, on 16 March reaching twice as many active cases of any other country including China and Iran combined.

FIGMMA President Saverio Longo

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has mandated a quarantine across all of Italy, affecting 60 million people, and has prohibited nearly all commercial activity except for supermarkets and pharmacies.

We checked in with IMMAF’s Italian MMA federation President Saverio Longo (of FIGMMA – Federazione Italiana Grappling Mixed Martial Arts) to ask about how life under quarantine is affecting Italy’s MMA community and what advice he can give to athletes and MMA participants in other countries, as more governments react.

What’s the situation like in Italy right now with the Coronavirus lock-down?

The Government has established that the entire population must avoid any movement except for situations of need that must be demonstrated.
We are therefore all forced to stay at home and obviously we are all very worried both about the spread of the virus and about the economic situation of the country which will suffer serious consequences.

How is this impacting MMA gyms?

By order of the government, all gyms, sports centers and sports facilities are closed.

How are athletes managing under the lockdown?

The government has established that athletes can train;

• in gyms and sports facilities (behind closed doors and under medical supervision) only if they are recognized as athletes of national interest by the National Olympic Committee and their respective federations, in view of their participation in the Olympic games or in national and international events.
• outdoors provided that the interpersonal distance of at least one meter is respected.

However, the government strongly urges everyone to stay home.

What type of training are MMA athletes and participants doing while in isolation if at all?

Fortunately, MMA is a sport that can also be practised individually and therefore athletes who do not want to lose physical shape in this period can run, practise bodyweight exercises, weightlifing and drills etc. at home.

MMA can also be studied by watching MMA, IMMAF and UFC fights on TV or online.

How are FIGMMA coaches, competitors and gym members supporting each other? Are you in regular communication?

All our social channels are active (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and the federal secretariat is always available to all sports clubs and members via telephone, Whatsapp and e-mail.

What actions has FIGMMA taken? And what support and advice is FIGMMA giving to athletes?

FIGMMA is providing advice on the interpretation of the rules introduced by the government to combat coronavirus and which concern sports activities.

In addition, FIGMMA on its website has published a message from the Federal President requesting everyone to stay at home and respect the provisions of the Government. This message highlights that young people must make sacrifices to defend older and more fragile people for whom the infection is much more dangerous, and that it is essential to have free beds available in hospitals in case of emergencies.

The President concluded his message by stating: ‘MMA is a sport that teaches us to protect the weakest. Today we have the opportunity and the duty to prove it .’

Is there any additional support that recognised sports are receiving in Italy that MMA is not, or are you getting the same support through FIGMMA?

In order to alleviate the economic damage that the sports world is suffering from this forced closure, the government has just approved a law that introduces support measures (e.g. worker protection, tax and social security benefits for sports clubs and suspension of license fees to be paid to the State and public bodies etc.).

As other countries start to introduce more restrictions, what advice can you give to MMA athletes and participants in other countries?

Faced with a new virus that we do not know, in addition to precisely following the provisions of the authorities of the country where you live, the advice I would like to give is to strengthen the immune system by following the following rules:

• Not smoking
• Follow a diet rich in fruit and vegetables.
• Exercise regularly.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Avoid drinking alcohol.
• Sleep well and sufficiently.
• Exposing yourself to the sun.
• Take measures to avoid infections such as washing your hands often.
• Try to minimize stress.

There are plenty of articles with useful tips to follow on how to strengthen the immune system.

FIGMMA President Saverio Longo at the 2019 Youth MMA World Championships

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