Athletes React To ONE’s Closed-Door, Audience-Free Events

Martial arts heroes Eduard Folayang, Aung La N Sang, and Martin Nguyen walk to the ring

The extraordinary COVID-19 global situation may have disrupted ONE Championship’s 2020 events calendar, but the world’s largest martial arts organization has found a way to forge ahead and thrill the masses during these turbulent times.

On Friday, 13 March, ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong announced that the promotion will hold four weekly closed-door and audience-free shows in Singapore beginning in mid-April.

Sityodtong’s announcement was welcomed by the organization’s martial arts superstars, who recently shared their thoughts on the big news.

Aung La N Sang

Two-division ONE World Champion Aung La N Sang

“Thank you to the ONE fans for keeping us in business. We promise to put on amazing shows, even with closed-door events. The staff is taking extra precautions and as an athlete, I am super thankful for them. And for me, it doesn’t matter if it’s a closed-door event, a stadium event, or [an event] in the parking lot, I plan on putting on great shows for the fans.”

Eduard Folayang

Filipino martial arts icon Eduard Folayang lands a high kick on Amarsanaa Tsogookhuu

“We’re under a pandemic now, so we have to look at the safety of the athletes, the staff, and the fans. It’s better [to hold closed-door events] than the fights being canceled altogether. I think it’s a good move because the fans can just wait for it on their TVs or social media accounts.

“The sports events that people are waiting for, like the NBA, are canceled as well, so I think that will be the advantage for ONE. I know there are a lot of people who want to watch live, but I know that even they wouldn’t push through because of health concerns.”

Martin Nguyen

Martin Nguyen celebrates his TKO victory at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES.

“At the end of the day, this virus is just a phase that will pass hopefully sooner than later. We just have to be smart in these certain situations and take self-care, as well as be mindful of others.”

Geje Eustaquio

Geje Eustaquio bites his mouthguard in the ring

“It’s a very wise move. On the athletes’ part, that decision is very favorable because we all know the hardships athletes go through to prepare [for a bout]. It’s always a dream for them to compete, so it would not be good if their matches get canceled altogether.

“The good thing is ONE Championship understands that. That’s why I am in favor of the events to go through, albeit in closed doors. Of course, it will hurt the company a little bit, especially when it comes to gate revenue. But sometimes, you have to make sacrifices.”

Danny Kingad

The Philippines' own Danny Kingad competes against China's Xie Wei

“I think boss Chatri made a great decision. I think that’s okay for the rest of us. After all, we cannot take into account each and every person who enters the arena during events – and we can’t be too sure because one person could be the start of an outbreak. For me, that’s a great decision, putting everything in closed doors for the meantime.”

Jihin Radzuan

Malaysian atomweight mixed martial artist Jihin Radzuan

“ONE Championship is the best martial arts organization, and what they did is actually fair on both ends. They want to minimize the risk of the virus spreading and, at the same time, they are putting the safety of the fans, athletes, and staff as their priority.”

Rene Catalan

Philippine martial artist Rene Catalan leaps forward with a punch

“For me, sir Chatri’s decision to continue the event in closed-doors is the right move. If an event pushes through which is open to the public, there is a big possibility for disease transmission. It’s a good move, and the right move, to push for closed-doors, as long as the competition continues.”

Read more: Mitch Chilson’s Journey From The Circle To The Commentary Booth

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