SINGAPORE - Singapore will stage a live sporting event with fans for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic next Friday (Oct 30), as 250 spectators will be allowed inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium for One Championship's Inside the Matrix fight event.
The mixed martial arts promotion announced this on Friday (Oct 23) and said tickets will cost $148, with a safe seating plan, adding it comes after it had successfully held a closed-door production in the Republic on Oct 9. That was its first show here since Feb 28, also without any fans in attendance.
The Government announced on Tuesday that participants in some mass events will have to take an antigen rapid test for Covid-19 and obtain a negative result before admission, under a new pilot meant to help the country resume more activities safely.
This rapid test will be used at next week's One event.
The large-scale events will be identified by the Government from mid-October to December this year, and will include business-to-business events, wedding receptions, live performances and sports events, the Ministry of Health had noted.
With no community spread in recent days, Piotr Chlebicki, an infectious diseases specialist at Mount Alvernia Hospital Singapore, believes that this is the right time for Singapore to start with such test events, especially with the strict measures in place.
He told The Straits Times on Friday: "With all kinds of precautions being taken, it would be very okay to try it (allow a small group of fans to watch the event live). Sooner or later we will have to try more of these events because of the good situation."
While he feels that the measures for the Oct 30 event are sufficient, he stressed that organisers should limit attendees to those from the local community. Dr Chlebicki also feels that there is little room for error as this will be a litmus test for other mass events to follow.
He said: "The challenge is that they will be the first and they will be very carefully watched so they have to make sure everything is done properly.
"Because based on the success of such smaller-scale events, there will be a lot of other events like family events, weddings, which may be allowed later based on the performance of such test events."
Stringent measures were put in place for the Oct 9 One event and these will be followed again. For the Oct 9 event, overseas-based fighters were tested four times - before they flew to Singapore, upon arrival, before and after the fight - while others were tested twice.
After being tested upon arrival in Singapore, athletes, cornermen and staff were required to remain in isolation until they received a negative test result.
While they were in Singapore, travelling was limited to the event "bubble". Training was allowed, but only at private designated areas within the hotel, and fighters had to follow strict schedules.
Liaison officials also accompanied the athletes at all times.
The Oct 30 One event will feature six fights, including four world title bouts. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.sg.
One chief executive Chatri Sityodtong said recently: "We are blessed and honored that the Singapore Government chose One as the first international property to come back online in Singapore and we were able to get Green Lane visas.
"We have strict health protocols not just for the athletes and staff but also for the general population."
German Paul Hoffmann, 33, bought a ticket upon hearing the news. It will be his first time watching a One event live. The auditor added: "I'm happy that Singapore is going back to some form of normalcy.
"I didn't expect that it would happen this year (being able to attend sports events), so in the morning when I saw that it was open, I thought that it was amazing because there are four title fights.
"Singapore has been very careful after the spike in cases a few months back. Now we have very few new infections (daily) and (for the event) we also have the test and everything so I wasn't really concerned."
The main event sees One middleweight and light heavyweight world champion Aung La N Sang of Myanmar defend his middleweight belt against undefeated top contender Reinier de Ridder of the Netherlands.
Reigning lightweight world champion Christian Lee, who fights under the Singapore flag, makes his first title defence against the undefeated Iuri Lapicus of Moldova.
Martin Nguyen of Vietnam puts his featherweight crown on the line against compatriot Thanh Le while Singapore's Tiffany Teo gets her rematch against women's strawweight champion Xiong Jinnan of China.
The other two fights see Filipino Eduard Folayang, a former lightweight world champion, face Australia's Antonio Caruso, and Indian national wrestling champion Ritu Phogat take on Cambodia's Nou Srey Pov.
The event will also be televised live on the official One Super App, Mediacorp's Channel 5 and meWatch App and across One's international broadcast and digital media partner's properties.
Other live sports here have been allowed to resume.
The Singapore Premier League football competition, the country's only professional league which had been suspended since March, restarted on Oct 17 behind closed doors.