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ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong defiant in face of coronavirus: 'The show must go on'

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ONE Championship’s upcoming event in Singapore will go ahead as planned, despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis in the region, with the promotion’s chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong announcing the event will take place behind closed doors at Singapore Indoor Stadium on Feb. 28.

“ONE Championship 109: King of the Jungle” will feature nine MMA bouts, with a pair of striking title fights – one kickboxing and one muay Thai – at the top of the card. All 11 bouts are set to go ahead as planned, but fans will not be allowed access to the arena.

“As has been well documented all over the world, the coronavirus has a high transmission rate, although it has a low mortality rate,” Sityodtong said during a media conference call Monday. “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.

“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.”

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A host of sporting events in the region have either been canceled or postponed, with the Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix, the World Indoor Athletics Championships and the Singapore and Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournaments, as well as a host of qualification tournaments ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, all affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Sityodtong admitted he had come under pressure to cancel or postpone ONE’s Feb. 28 show but had instead opted to push forward with the event, albeit in a behind-closed-doors format.

“Many people were pushing me to cancel, but my team and I felt the right thing to do was to offer full refunds to all the fans who bought tickets for the stadium event, but to continue with the show,” he explained. “Our athletes, for me, are heroes, and now more than ever across Asia we need heroes. There’s a lot of panic (and) a lot of fear in every country in Asia, and I want to give all our fans, all of the people of Asia a night of entertainment and inspiration, a night to celebrate the best of humanity so they can forget their problems, but also so they can be inspired to unite and fight against this coronavirus together.”

It means the show will be broadcast live as usual via all of ONE’s regular broadcast and streaming partners, and while the enthusiastic atmosphere in the stands will be missing on fight night, Sityodtong said the fighters themselves will be inspired to produce memorable performances for everyone watching at home.

“We want millions of fans to be sitting in the comfort of their homes watching the incredible martial artists in action, but also to be inspired by the stories of our heroes and all the adversity they have overcome,” he said. “For me, success is not judged by what happens in the stadium. For me, success is about our mission, and our mission is very different from our two other global competitors. This is a time in which we get to show our true colors as an organization and as a company. And so I think, if I had to predict, I bet our viewing figures are going to be very, very strong because everyone wants to rally and unite together around our heroes in a time like this in Asia.”

“ONE Championship 109: King of the Jungle” MMA fight card includes:

MAIN CARD

  • Kimihiro Eto vs. Amir Khan
  • Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Sherif Mohamed
  • Ayaka Miura vs. Tiffany Teo

PRELIMINARY CARD

  • Mei Yamaguchi vs. Denice Zamboanga
  • Mark Abelardo vs. Troy Worthen
  • Honorio Banario vs. Shanon Wiratchai
  • Wu Chiao Chen vs. Rity Phogat
  • Hexi Getu vs. Adrian Mattheis
  • Jeff Chan vs. Radeem Rahman

Voir l'article complet

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