Coronavirus is now affecting major sporting events in the United States and it is highly likely to include the March 28 UFC event in Columbus, Ohio.
On Wednesday afternoon, Ohio governor Mike DeWine announced his state will become more aggressive in response to the pandemic after a fourth case of the coronavirus was reported.
As part of Ohio’s measures to deal with the outbreak, the state will soon issue an order banning all large gatherings. The order is set to be in place within the next two days.
“In the next several days we will sign an order on mass gatherings in the state of Ohio,” DeWine told reporters. “Let me reiterate what the experts have told us, that there is a risk in any kind of mass gathering. The bigger the gathering, the bigger the risk. The closer you are to people the bigger the risk.”
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Sports leagues across the country from the NBA to the NHL are wrestling with how to handle their response to the virus.
The NCAA has been the most proactive among sports authorities, as it announced Wednesday the entirety of the men’s and women’s collegiate basketball tournaments will proceed behind closed doors.
The UFC has yet to issue an official statement on the state of UFC on ESPN 8 in Columbus. MMA Junkie reached out to the UFC for comment on Wednesday, who responded they are looking into the situation.
It’s unknown how the governor’s order will ultimately affect UFC on ESPN 8. This could range from hosting the event at the arena without fans, to changing location, to cancelling the card.
The event is set take place Saturday, March 28 at Nationwide Arena. The card will air on ESPN. The main event features a heavyweight bout between Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik.