Coronavirus pandemic

Athletes unite to fight common rival

Irish mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor, 31, is doing his part to knock out coronavirus in his country. He bought $1.58 million worth of protective equipment for hospital workers. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Irish mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor, 31, is doing his part to knock out coronavirus in his country. He bought $1.58 million worth of protective equipment for hospital workers. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

DUBLIN • Conor McGregor, the biggest draw in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, has spent €1 million (S$1.58 million) on protective equipment for hospital staff members treating patients infected by the coronavirus in Ireland.

The mixed martial arts star sent a message to Ireland's Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, and revealed the contents on his Twitter page on Wednesday night.

Donohoe had written to his fellow Irishman, asking him to tell his 7.9 million social media followers to practise social distancing.

"Today I am purchasing myself, one million euros worth of personal protective equipment to be deployed to all the fighting hospitals in the Leinster region. Our most affected region, to this date," McGregor said.

"St James', Mater, Tallaght, Beaumont, Vincent's (hospitals). Where we would be without these brave men and women, I do not know. May God bless over them and keep them safe."

He also called on the Irish government to go "all the way" in its efforts to fight Covid-19 and implement even more stringent lockdown measures.

McGregor is, however, not the only high-profile sporting figure to contribute generously to the efforts in combating the contagion.

ROGER FEDERER

On Wednesday, 20-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer and his wife, Mirka, said they had donated 1 million Swiss francs (S$1.48 million) "for the most vulnerable families" in Switzerland, which has over 11,000 confirmed cases and a death toll of 164 as of yesterday.

PEP GUARDIOLA

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on Wednesday made a €1 million contribution to a campaign launched by the Angel Soler Daniel Foundation and Medical College of Barcelona. Spain is the second-most affected country in Europe after Italy, with over 56,000 cases and 4,089 deaths.

LI NA

While the epicentre of the outbreak has shifted from China to Europe, Wuhan was where the disease originated. Last month, retired Chinese tennis star Li Na, the only Asian player to win two Grand Slam singles titles, donated 3 million yuan (S$608,500) to support the efforts in suppressing Covid-19 in her hometown.

ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI

The Poland striker has given €1 million to a campaign called "We Kick Corona", which was set up by Bayern Munich teammates Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich. It aims to assist frontline healthcare workers to limit the spread of the virus in Germany, which has been badly affected, with almost 40,000 cases and 222 deaths.

SON HEUNG-MIN

The Tottenham forward is back in London after undergoing surgery for a broken arm, which he suffered last month. But when Son was recuperating in South Korea, he gave £65,000 (S$111,700) to an ongoing relief effort designed to help victims of Covid-19 in his country. Former Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung matched his donation.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2020, with the headline 'Athletes unite to fight common rival'. Print Edition | Subscribe