Despite Coronavirus fears Ritu Phogat will contest her second ONE Championship bout on February 20 as per schedule. However, the looming threat would mean there will be no audience at the arena in Singapore.
Ritu, who had made a winning start to her MMA career against South Korea’s Kim Nam-Hee in Beijing on November 16 last year, will take on Chin’a Wu Chiao Chen at One Championship’s ‘King of the Jungle’ event on in the promotion’s home base of Singapore.
Asian MMA promotion founder and CEO Chatri Sityodtong in a Facebook post had confirmed that the upcoming bout will now only be played for television audience. “BREAKING NEWS: In light of the Coronavirus situation in Singapore, I have made the decision to convert ONE: King of the Jungle on February 28 into a closed event for broadcast only. The Singapore Indoor Stadium will not be open to the general public, but the event will proceed behind closed doors as scheduled live on all TV and digital platforms across 150+ countries around the world. If you purchased tickets to attend the event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, you will receive a full refund. Catch the event live on TV from the comfort of your home on February 28!,” read Sityodtong’s Facebook post.
“My team and I had the option to cancel the event altogether, but we chose not to cancel it. More than ever, the world needs hope and strength right now. Our heroes are prepared to inspire you with the greatest performances of their lives on February 28. We are here to give all of our fans around the world another magical night to celebrate the best of humanity. At ONE Championship, our mission since Day 1 has been to unleash real-life superheroes who ignite the world with hope, strength, dreams, and inspiration.
“Let us unite as a country and let us show strength as a continent to conquer this coronavirus. Let us celebrate what makes us special, what makes us strong, what makes us human. A ship is not made to sit in the calm waters of a harbor. It is made to conquer the rough seas in search of new horizons. With love, compassion, and resilience, we will get through these tough times together. Majulah Singapura! Jiayou China! #WeAreONE,” he concluded.
ONE Championship, eyeing the strong wrestling fan base in India, last week had also for the first time held an open MMA training session in New Delhi.
The Coronavirus outbreak in China has led to the cancellation of a number sports events in the region. The Chinese wrestlers have been denied visas for the ongoing Asian Wrestling Championships in New Delhi, while the national has also forfeited its Davis Cup tie.
The Ministry of Health in Singapore has advised organisers to defer non-essential events.
Rival promotion UFC has also been affected by coronavirus. Ahead of her title defence on March 7 at UFC 248, women’s straw-weight champion Weili Zhang of China first moved her training camp from Beijing to Thailand, and later to Abu Dhabi.