The Covid-19 pandemic has given life to the IFMA Muaythai Connects initiative which goes far beyond a temporary solution to the postponement or cancellation of Muaythai events. The initiative is in line with IFMA’s philosophy to use Muaythai to promote unity in diversity, promote respect, cultural understanding and sporting exchange.
The pandemic has affected all our lives and the world of sport is no exception. When the pandemic started 8 months ago, athletes around the world found themselves in lockdown and conditions with limited training opportunities.
It was IFMA’s priority to ensure that the IFMA athletes continue to be in physically and mentally active and used virtual resources and social media to connect the outside world. IFMA saw it as an opportunity to turn crisis into opportunity with the #muaythai connects campaign, organizing training and social opportunities to bring the world of Muaythai on one unified platform. There was no passport, visa or air ticket required. The athletes invited each other to their home, training together.
We live in a world where unfortunately, politics can keep countries apart. However, on the IFMA virtual platform and in the IFMA Family, politics has no place.
From the #MuaythaiConnects campaign evolved the idea of the first IFMA World Virtual Championships in May with qualifying events starting as early as June and the final qualifying events ending 4 months later. Over 30,000 athletes in over 100 countries participated in their National Virtual Championships.
Chair of the IFMA Athletes’ Commission, Janice Lyn, stated, “In many countries, the numbers of participants in the Virtual Championships was even higher than in the physical championships due to less limitations related to financial and geographical restrictions and also the inclusion of younger athletes and athletes with different abilities. The key was, to find a balance between the cultural, technical, physical and fun elements. This is why 4 categories were established: Wai Kru, promoting the ancient traditions and cultural heritage of the art and sport, Shadow Boxing, where the athletes must showcase the techniques of the sport, Max Fit, based on physical, strength and core exercises and Aero Fit which is based on fun and artistic elements.
IFMA Director, Charissa Tynan, stated, “The participation went beyond any of our expectations and it was a joint effort of the entire IFMA family from the National Federations, the International Headquarters, the Youth Commission, Technical Commission and Athletes’ Commission to establish rules and guidelines, a platform to compete and above all, give opportunity to the IFMA athletes.”
IFMA Vice President, General Udomdej Sitabutr Stated, “For many athletes, the journey will not end here as the winners of the Max Fit and Aero Fit Competition will then qualify to represent Muaythai at the United Through Sports World Youth Festival and have the opportunity to engage with youth athletes from over 70 other sports under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee, International Paralympics Committee and Special Olympics International. This Festival will be hosted from Thailand to the world.”
We have learned from the pandemic how fragile life is. That the pandemic does not know borders or social standing and that we must stand in solidarity as one to beat the pandemic and simultaneously be innovative and adapt to ensure that we stay active and healthy both physically and mentally.
The Opening Ceremony will showcase Muaythai’s stance in solidarity with all sporting sisters and brothers around the world. Over 800 competitions will take place over the next 5 days and can be watched on the IFMA live platform which can be found on:
Enjoy the competition and good luck to all the athletes.