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Expert and brother of UFC owner says return of crowds in sports events won’t happen until late 2021

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Bioethicist Zeke Emanuel gives a time frame of when a large crowd can be back in live sports events.

UFC 236: Gastelum v Adesanya Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

UFC 248 was the last time a large crowd gathered to watch a live fight. And according to Progress Oncologist and Bioethicist Zeke Emanuel — the older brother of Endeavor co-CEO and UFC owner Ari Emanuel — it may take a while before it happens again.

Speaking to the New York Times, Zeke gave what he says is a “realistic” time frame of when large gatherings like sports events can resume.

“Restarting the economy has to be done in stages, and it does have to start with more physical distancing at a work site that allows people who are at lower risk to come back,” Emanuel told the New York Times. “Certain kinds of construction, or manufacturing or offices, in which you can maintain six-foot distances are more reasonable to start sooner.

“Larger gatherings — conferences, concerts, sporting events — when people say they’re going to reschedule this conference or graduation event for October 2020, I have no idea how they think that’s a plausible possibility.

“I think those things will be the last to return. Realistically we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest,” he added.

UFC Brasilia, the event that followed UFC 248, was held behind closed doors in an empty 11,000-seater arena. The company was looking to implement the same protocol for UFC 249 this month, which ended up being canceled.

Nonetheless, UFC president Dana White promises to be the “first sport back” once the COVID-19 crisis passes. He also revealed that the infrastructure for his fight island plans will be done in a month’s time.