ONE Championship will continue with its upcoming event in Singapore as per schedule, despite the growing coronavirus crisis in the region. However, adequate preventive measures will be taken, according to CEO and chairperson Chatri Sityodtong.
In a media conference call on Monday, Sityodtong announced that ONE Championship 109: King of the Jungle will take place behind closed doors with no audience present, to keep the risk of contagiousness to minimum, MMA Junkie reported.
Chatri Sityodtong: The show must go on
The decision was taken keeping in mind the ever-increasing panic and fear surrounding the disease, and in Sityodtong's own words, to keep the hope alive during such a time of hardship.
"As has been well documented all over the world, the coronavirus has a high transmission rate, although it has a low mortality rate. We just felt this was an incredible moment for us to ignite hope and strength across the continent of Asia and to fans all over the world given this very difficult time, with mass hysteria or fear across many countries across Asia. I also want to say that it is only by love, compassion and resilience that Singapore as a country and Asia as a continent can overcome and conquer the coronavirus."
Quite a lot of sporting events have been cancelled or postponed in the region owing to the situation, including the Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix, World Athletics Championship and qualification rounds for the Tokyo Olympics later this year.
Sityodtong admitted that he too was pushed to cancel his event. But instead he offered to refund the purchased tickets and decided to go ahead with the live broadcast only, to give the people of Asia "a night of entertainment and inspiration, a night to celebrate the best of humanity..."
"I think the most important thing is ONE Championship is proving to the world that, no matter what crisis exists, the show must go on."
The February 28 event will be held in an empty Singapore Indoor Stadium, featuring 11 MMA bouts including two title fights in kickboxing and Muay Thai.