MANILA, Philippines -- After the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to suspend events for four months, ONE Championship has been slowly but surely getting back into the swing of things with a series of events.
They held two closed-door events in China in June, and six audience-free events in Bangkok from July to September. This month, they returned to Singapore with "Reign of Dynasties," and on Friday, they will hold ONE: Inside the Matrix with a limited number of fans allowed at the Singapore Indoor Arena.
"Our COVID-19 protocol was very strong, and everything went without a hitch," ONE Championship chairman Chatri Sityodtong said of their earlier events in Singapore.
For ONE: Inside the Matrix this Friday, 250 fans will be allowed to watch live. The event will implement all necessary measures to ensure the safety of all attendees, including piloting the use of antigen rapid tests prior to the event.
"That will be a mark for another step towards the right direction of having our full-scale events back," Sityodong.
A similar event in the Philippines is unlikely, however. ONE Championship traditionally holds its cards at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, which remains under general community quarantine. Mass gatherings -- including sporting events -- are still not allowed in GCQ areas.
Sityodtong is also reluctant to hold a closed-door event in Manila.
"There are no plans right now to do empty stadium events in the Philippines," he said.
"When we come back to the Philippines, we'll make sure it's a spectacular show and fans will be allowed in a stadium," he stressed. "It'll be a real, big, big show."
When that will happen remains unsure. Sityodtong believes it will take at least another year "before the world returns back to normal," and so holding full stadium events may be out of the question.
Nonetheless, they will continue with smaller scale productions such as ONE: Inside the Matrix, which features six matches including four world title bouts.
"In the meanwhile, we got to keep on doing events here in Singapore as well as in Thailand and China," said Sityodtong. "You're going to also see some more international events from other countries because we are talking to few other governments around the world for our international events."