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‘Boxing Stadium Cluster’ investigation over banned March 6 event

Jack Burton

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The head of the Royal Thai Army, General Apirat Kongsompong today ordered the creation of a committee to track down those responsible for holding a competition in Lumphini Boxing Stadium on March 6, days after it was ordered closed.

The stadium, which is under the management of the army, has been a major hotzone for the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus around Bangkok, prompting demands by netizens to hold the army accountable.

The Ministry of Public Health has traced at least 143 of the 1045 people infected so far to the actual boxing match on March 6. The patients are a mix of attendees, staff, and those who came in close contact with them. The match was held despite a March 3 order by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha requiring large gatherings to be cancelled or postponed.

The holding of the match could be deemed a violation of a government diktat, after PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, ordered all public gatherings such as sports stadiums to be closed.

A similar order was issued by the Sports Authority of Thailand to the stadium’s management the next day on March 4. They asked the stadium’s president to “consider postponing the match per the PM’s instruction.”

The authority’s registrar later said that the order only applied to boxing matches in the provinces, not the matches held at “standardised” arenas in Bangkok. The stadium’s president told reporters on March 5 he would not cancel the match.

The fight attracted an audience of at least 5,000.

“I was not at the stadium on that day. I don’t know,” the stadium’s director of public relations Colonel Somkiat Thanomkhum said by phone. He referred all inquiries to Colonel Somsakun Vijitparb, the stadium’s secretary-general, who said he was “not available for comment.”

SOURCES: The Nation | Khaosod English

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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