The coronavirus pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on everything from the economy to society and human interaction. It has shuttered airports and businesses, locked down borders, and isolated millions in their homes in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus. It has also claimed the lives of more than 167,000 people and infected nearly 2.5 million people overall.
Despite living through a global pandemic unlike anything we have witnessed in the last century, some people continue to downplay its severity or make ignorant comparisons not rooted in any form of logic. One of those people is UFC heavyweight Aleksei Oleinik, who claimed that COVID-19 is no more of a threat than anything prizefighters have to deal with on a regular basis.
“Now I know two dozen fighters who are preparing for events in the next month and a half. We risk our health much more during fights and sparring than by getting infected with coronavirus.” said Oleinik.
Unlike fighting and sparring, which are dangerous activities not without their physical risks and tolls, the 2019 novel coronavirus is a respiratory virus that spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is highly contagious, even in those who are asymptomatic, and has proven to be lethal in nearly 7% of the 2.5 million confirmed infected cases.
While Oleinik is likely not at the same risk as those 65 and over, with compromised immune systems, or with underlying medical and health conditions, he could be at risk of spreading the disease to those who are vulnerable. His suggestion that UFC fighters face more risks by competing in a cage fight does not take into account the risks associated with transferring the contagion to others in your surroundings.
Despite his misguided statement, Oleinik admitted that he is still taking some precautions during training.
“We work with trainers and sparring partners. The only limitation is the number of workouts. They became fewer for obvious reasons. We can’t work two to three times a day, so we work out three times in two days. You can safely move at any time of the day [in the US], and there are no restrictions on this. It is recommended that you simply be masked in public places, but there are people who go to the shops without them, and no one tells them anything.
“We take care of ourselves, wash and disinfect our hands before and after each training session and after each trip to the store, but we are not over-cautious.”
Oleinik is scheduled to face former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum on the May 9th event at a location yet to be disclosed.