By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19) can either bring the best or the worst to an organization. And for ONE Championship there is no way to guide its affairs but to the former.
With its live events affected at the onset when cases of COVID-19 started to climb, Asia’s largest sports media property moved swiftly to calibrate its push, deciding to render their events behind closed doors and audience-free.
ONE founder and chairman Chatri Sityodtong said the move was not only to have “the show go on” but more importantly to provide inspiration to forge ahead to people in these trying times.
“For the fans at home around the world, the show will go on from the comfort and safety of your living room. ONE Championship will continue to thrill you with the greatest martial artists on the planet and inspire you with their incredible stories,” Mr. Sityodtong said in a statement.
The tack started on Feb. 28 with “ONE: King of the Jungle” at an audience-free Singapore Indoor Stadium with American Janet “J.T.” Todd becoming the new world atomweight kickboxing champion after defeating erstwhile champ Stamp Fairtex of Thailand.
Such a setup is to continue at least for the next three events of ONE set for April 24, May 1, and May 8, all to take place in Singapore where ONE Championship is headquartered.
The promotion is hoping to go back to a familiar setting with fans in tow when it comes back to Manila on May 29 for ONE Infinity 1 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
In addition to adjusting to how it shows are being presented in light of COVID-19, ONE is also taking the opportunity to find more ways to build on its content and offering.
For one, it recently partnered with American reality TV show The Apprentice for the future launch of The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition under license from MGM.
“This brand-new concept brings a completely unique and original dimension to The Apprentice with the high-stakes drama of real-life business competitions, coupled with herculean physical challenges, featuring some of Asia’s top CEOs, the world’s greatest martial arts world champions, and A-list celebrities from across the continent,” said Mr. Sityodtong of the ONE edition of The Apprentice.
ONE is also shoring up its esports component, lining up packed event schedules for this year.
Mr. Sityodtong underscored that as an organization they are taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously, and is encouraging one and all to do the same.
But at the same he said they are not allowing it to stop them from moving on and seeing their group vision through but guided still by the prevailing conditions.
“This virus might be on the attack right now, but I believe in the power of the human spirit. Let’s Go! #WeAreONE,” Mr. Sityodtong said.