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Chatri Sityodtong to monitor COVID-19 situation 'country by country' as One: King of the Jungle now behind closed doors

Honorio Banario will be seeing action in One: King of the Jungle, which will be held behind closed doors. Rick Dela Cruz (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—One Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong said that the MMA promotion will continue to look at the health situation in the countries where it will hold fight cards this year as the outbreak of the novel coronavirus continues.

This after he announced that the upcoming One: King of the Jungle fight card on Feb. 28 will be held behind closed doors.

"We will assess and monitor the situation country by country," Sityodtong said in a conference call on Tuesday.

Sityodtong's decision to hold One: King of the Jungle in a closed-door setting at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, which he announced on Monday night, came at the heels of two newest confirmed cases that the Singapore Ministry of Health confirmed earlier in the day, bringing the number of COVID-19 in the said country to 77.

In fact, all the countries that will get their turns of hosting a One Championship event this year have confirmed COVID-19 cases, especially China, where the said virus came from, so there is a possibility that more events could be held behind closed doors.

Sityodtong already moved a One event that was supposed to happen in China on April 11 to Jakarta and will now be played on April 10.

However, Sityodtong assured that all the 50 events scheduled this year will push through, although he added that "the public safety is our top priority."

"One Championship is proving to the world that no matter what crisis exists, the show must go on," he continued. "Many people were expecting us and pushing me to cancel the event, but my team and I felt that the right thing to do is to continue with the show."

Sityodtong then reasoned, "Our athletes for me are heroes, and now, more than ever, across Asia, we need heroes."

Regarding the fighters that will compete in One: King of the Jungle, Sityodtong said that One will also monitor their health situation for possible contact with COVID-19.

"We are taking all the necessary precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of our athletes," Sityodtong further said.

Two Filipinos will take centerstage at One: King of the Jungle. Honorio Banario will battle Shannon Wiratchai, while Mark Abelardo will take on Tony Worthen.

The said fight card will also have two One Super Series world title fights. Sam-A Gaiyanghadao will defend his One Muay Thai strawweight belt against Rocky Ogden, while Nong Stamp will defend her One kickboxing atomweight championship against Janet Todd.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno