The Coronavirus pandemic continues to be a major health issue all over the world. As the situation grows worse, several countries are taking steps to curb the spread of the virus into the population.
This is also true of the United States, where many pro sports leagues like the NBA have ended their seasons early, thanks to reported cases of the disease. Since then, many states have instituted bans on public gatherings, with North Carolina being among the latest to join the list. But will these moves actually help to contain the virus in America before it becomes more widespread?
This is an important question for many professional wrestling fans, who have seen their favorite companies stop running live events recently. Even WWE Friday Night SmackDown on March 13 took place live from the Performance Center with no audience present. Some believe this is a knee-jerk reaction to an overblown story, while others feel that these companies are doing the right thing. So what’s the truth here?
— WWE (@WWE) March 13, 2020
Dr. Alex Patel, a critical care physician based in Toronto Canada, recently appeared on Wrestling Observer Live and spoke about the situation in regards to major pro wrestling companies like WWE. WWE has yet to postpone or cancel WrestleMania 36 on April 5, though many people outside the company feel a move should definitely be made.
Patel gave background on why he feels it’s important for proper precaution to be taken ahead of time.
“If you have a lot of cases at once, you will overwhelm a medical system simply because the denominator is so high in terms of the total number of cases that even a small percentage and we estimate that need critical care is about 5%, becomes too much. We don’t have enough ventilators, we don’t have enough doctors. We don’t have enough places to care for these people and you increase the death rate.
So the reason that you’re seeing all these measures, that we call ‘social distancing,’ such as shutting down of events in large gatherings, encouraging people to isolate if they’re sick or travel, is to prevent that and flatten that out, so that you’re not seeing that immense caseload right up front, that you’re sort of spreading it out if you will, over a number of weeks, so that you’re not overwhelming the medical system and that they can care for people who do get sick. Because even though the numbers are small, when you start to infect more and more people, even that small percentage can become too much for that medical system to handle.”
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Patel wen on to say that the length of time that the Coronavirus will be an issue is unknown, though he does estimate a three month time period. That estimation is due to the similarities between the virus and SARS, which was a medical issue in 2002-2003. Patel also noted that SARS was a much deadlier disease, so the precautions taken with the Coronavirus now could be extremely beneficial in the long run.
So what does Vince McMahon’s company do in light of the information that continues to come out about this disease? The fact is that WWE has a tremendous amount of money invested in not only the WrestleMania event itself, but from a creative standpoint as well. The Show of Shows is typically used as the blowoff point for many top feuds and top Superstars, who restart with fresh angles in the days following Mania. This means that weekly TV programming would be affected if WrestleMania does not happen as planned.
Then there’s the fact that WWE has not always operated in the norm when it comes to other major American businesses. McMahon and company tend to work within their own reality and in that reality, the decision making process is almost always left to the whim of one man.
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But WWE is already facing a backlash and major public criticism over the decision to not reschedule WrestleMania 36. If that external pressure continues to build internally, then the company may not have a choice but to make an announcement sooner rather than later.
The fact is that the current travel ban in America would prohibit a great number of fans from even making it to Tampa, Florida on April 5. Even if the ban were lifted at the zero hour and Mania took place as planned, then WWE would be playing host to around 80,000 fans from all over the world shoulder to shoulder in the Raymond James Stadium.
This would obviously increase the risk of spreading the disease. If just one person is infected, then that could spell disaster for anyone in attendance. Of course the city of Tampa may not sit by and allow WWE to move forward with the event. If that’s the case, then the company would be forced to reschedule.
As of this writing, WrestleMania 36 is still on calendar. Whether or not this will change remains to be seen.
Tom Clark is a Senior Pro Wrestling Analyst and Featured Columnist for Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes,YouTube, iHeart Radio, boinkstudios.com and live every Friday at 12pm EST on Wrestling Rumors Facebook Live