The Estonian Mixed Martial Arts Federation (EMMAF) was accepted as member of the Estonian Olympic Committee, granting official recognition to MMA as a sport in Estonia.
EMMAF Board Member, Ott Tõnissaar, issued the following statement on the 5 May:
“I am pleased to say, that after more than 15 years of work we can say that we are here to stay, as the Estonian Mixed Martial Arts Federation yesterday became a fully-fledged member of the Estonian Olympic Committee. This means that MMA is now a government recognised sport in Estonia and the Estonian Mixed Martial Arts Federation is its sole, national representative.
“The final sprint started 55 days ago when the Government decided on new COVID-19 restrictions which landed really hard on Estonian mixed martial arts athletes. Only national teams of government recognised sports were allowed to continue training. Although MMA did not have government recognition, the Estonian MMA Federation had been functioning as a de facto national sports federation for some time. Estonian MMA athletes had been representing our country, achieving four podium places at IMMAF European Championships and three top-10 ranking places at the IMMAF World Championships. This opened up a dialogue that reached the President of the Estonian Olympic Committee, Mr Urmas Sõõrumaa. After some talks, Sõõrumaa’s position on this matter was straightforward: The Estonian Olympic Committee should cover all sports in Estonia. And we made it happen.
“COVID-19 training restrictions on national team MMA athletes have not yet been lifted by the Estonian Ministry of Culture, but we are hoping for it to happen any day now.
“I would like to thank the community of Estonian mixed martial arts – especially all the local sports clubs, coaches, enthusiasts, athletes, practitioners, sponsors and many other people who have been developing and growing our sport at a grassroots level. I would also like to thank IMMAF for building the framework for our sport to grow and for organising international level, championship events that are the soul of our sport.”
IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:
“Huge congratulations are in order for the passionate commitment and meticulous work of the Estonian MMA Federation and community in proving the validity of MMA and establishing the EMMAF as an effective, national governing body for the sport. We welcome the wisdom and justice of this decision by the Estonian Olympic Committee that gives MMA’s athletes and participants the same recognition as those of other sports.”