ONE Championship has been forced to alter yet another upcoming event due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has become an increasingly global issue in recent weeks.
On Friday, ONE founder, Chairman, and CEO Chatri Sityodtong took to Facebook to announce that the promotion had decided to postpone the upcoming ONE: Heart of Heroes event previously scheduled to take place in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on March 20.
The event is now set for June 26, provided safety threats from the coronavirus subside.
Sityodtong revealed that he and the ONE team had discussed “all options with the Vietnam Government,” whose country had been largely successful at managing the spread of the coronavirus at its onset thanks to many proactive, internationally applauded efforts, including a viral song about hygiene.
In recent days, Vietnam has seen an increase in coronavirus cases. On Friday, the country reported its first new case of COVID-19 in over three weeks; a government minister and a web of people who had come in contact with her were placed under quarantine following the arrival of several coronavirus-infected passengers on a London plane in Hanoi.
The country instituted a ban on visa-free travel from eight high-risk European countries on Monday.
The novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, originated in Wuhan, China. The virus is a highly contagious respiratory illness that causes symptoms of fever, coughing, shortness of breath, and respiratory problems.
In extreme cases, the virus can cause pneumonia, organ failure, and even death, according to the Center for Disease Control.
According to The New York Times, the total number of worldwide cases has surpassed 110,200, with at least 3,835 global deaths. Countries such as China, South Korea, Japan, and Iran have been the hardest hit in Asia, while Italy, France, and Germany have reported sizable numbers in Europe. The United States only recently began seeing reported cases, but new reports have continued to crop up at a rate to be expected of such an infectious disease.
Sityodtong, explaining the reason for the postponement, noted that the “safety of our fans, athletes, staff, partners, and public are the highest priority” for the promotion.
This is not the first ONE Championship event that has been affected by the coronavirus. In February, ONE announced that an upcoming Chinese event featuring a title fight between Demetrious Johnson and Adriano Moraes would be moved to Indonesia, and just two weeks ago, ONE held their Singapore event without an audience.
One of the Vietnam events fighters, Bi Nguyen, took to Twitter to voice her sadness at the situation.
No inspiring message. I’m human, and im devastated. pic.twitter.com/ycfKG5VFU6
— Bi Nguyen “killer bee” (@killerbeemma) March 6, 2020
Calling her past three months in Thailand an “emotional rollercoaster,” Nguyen said ONE postponed the event due to “traveling issues; it’s hard to book flights for athletes right now because of the coronavirus.”
ONE Championship’s next event will be ONE: Infinity 1, the aforementioned Johnson-Moraes event that landed in Indonesia, on April 10.
Michael Fiedel is The Body Lock's deputy editor, a staff writer for FloCombat, and a Russell-Rice scholarship recipient at Vanderbilt University.