International fighters and their upcoming bouts may be impacted due to new United States government policies pertaining to travel and the COVID-19 vaccine.
In a memo sent out to fighters and their teams Tuesday and acquired by MMA Junkie, UFC Chief Business Officer Hunter Campbell informed recipients of changes to U.S. international travel requirements.
Campbell explained foreign individuals looking to travel to the United States after Nov. 8 will need to be fully vaccinated with, and provide proof of, one of seven WHO approved vaccines. They will also need a negative COVID-19 test from a 72-hour period prior to travel. The policy also applies to those crossing from Canada or Mexico, or those coming by ship.
“Foreign national air travelers to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of their vaccination status to fly to the United States,” the memo reads. “Fully vaccinated travelers will also be required to show a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of travel prior to boarding their flight. This policy also applies to foreign nationals crossing the land borders with Canada and Mexico or arriving in the United States by passenger ferry.”
UFC president Dana White has long stood by his notion he will never require any of his employees or independent contractors to take the vaccine – a sentiment reiterated in Campbell’s email.
“To be clear, this is NOT a UFC policy,” the memo reads. “UFC is not requiring you to get vaccinated. We are simply communicating the new guidelines recently announced by the U.S. government.”
The UFC is currently booking its lineups through mid-February. For fighters potentially affected by the new policy, Campbell mentioned a workaround for those who choose not to get vaccinated.
“You should consider your options, such as traveling to the United States before this new U.S. government policy takes effect, or if you choose, make arrangements to take the appropriate vaccination,” Campbell wrote.
“… This policy takes effect on November 8, leaving very little time to make arrangements if you are fighting on a UFC card in November. If you choose to travel to the U.S. before the new policy takes effect, you will need a waiver if you are traveling from one of the restricted countries. Please contact the UFC Immigration team at (redacted contact information) so we can ensure you have a valid travel waiver in place. … It is unclear at this time what parameters will be applied to U.S. citizens or permanent residents (green card holders) who are not vaccinated.”
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, frequently shifting travel restrictions and policies have presented numerous challenges for the organization with many international fighters unable to leave their home countries or get to the United States.
With the implementation of UFC “Fight Island,” dozens of internationally-based fighters have been able to compete in an alternative to the United States, but roadblocks still remain for some.
It is unclear what impact the new restrictions, which the White House announced Friday, will have on the UFC’s fighter roster. While some previously-blocked international teams could be allowed into the States, others may be denied based on their vaccine status.