'People are dying': Outrage over UFC fighter's 'disgusting' coronavirus joke

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

UFC women’s strawweight champion Zhang Weili has blasted rival Joanna Jedrzejczyk after she made light of the coronavirus outbreak.

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Polish fighter Jedrzejczyk posted a photo on Instagram promoting her upcoming fight with Zhang, however she made some alterations.

Jedrzejczyk photoshopped a gas mask onto her face in the pic that shows her standing next to her Chinese opponent.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk's photoshop effort. Image: Joanna Jedrzejczyk

“To make fun of tragedy is a true sign of one’s character," Weili wrote on Instagram.

"People are dying, someone’s father, someone’s mother, someone’s child.

“Say what you want about me if it makes you feel stronger but do not joke about what's happening here.

“I wish you good health until March 7th. I will see you soon."

Jedrzejczyk later attempted to clarify her actions:

“Hey champ, hey Weili, so sorry to make you feel bad, but I would never make fun of sick people with illness or virus,” she said in a video posted to Instagram.

“So, I didn't want you to get offended. But I just made fun of the funny internet meme. So, so sorry. Still, I will see you March 7. And don't get emotional, OK?"

Jedrzejczyk’s actions didn’t sit well with fans either.

Coronavirus wreaks havoc on sporting world

The World Indoor Athletics Championships, scheduled to take place in Nanjing, China in March, have been postponed until 2021 over fears related to the coronavirus outbreak.

World Athletics had been monitoring the situation ahead of the March 13-15 event and has decided to move it to next year as a precaution.

In a statement, World Athletics said: "It is with regret that we have agreed with the organisers of the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing (13-15 March 2020) to postpone the event to March 2021.

"We know that China is doing all it can to contain the new coronavirus and we support them in all their efforts but it is necessary to provide our athletes, member federations and partners with a clear way forward in what is a complex and fast-moving set of circumstances."

The sport's governing body said it had considered relocating the event to another country but decided against that option because the spread of the virus outside China could have forced another postponement.

World Athletics added that it was working with the Nanjing organising committee to settle on a date to host the biennial event in 2021.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk in action in the UFC. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The Asian Athletics Association has cancelled its indoor championships, which were due to take place from February 12-13 in Hangzhou - 600km from Wuhan, where the virus originated at the end of last year.

So far, there are 6,065 cases of the virus worldwide, all but some 70 in China, with 132 deaths in the country, according to the latest WHO figures.

The Matildas' qualification tournament for this year's Olympics are also in doubt amid fresh concerns.

Just hours after announcing the schedule for next week's six matches involving Australia, Thailand, Taiwan and China, FFA announced they would not start selling tickets on Thursday as planned.

The decision was taken after Australia's chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy advised authorities evidence suggested coronavirus is contagious before people show symptoms, and contacts of any confirmed cases must now be isolated following exposure.

China's women's team arrived in Brisbane on Wednesday morning but have since been placed in isolation at their hotel.

Queensland's chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young said while the team's players, coaches and officials were healthy they had recently visited Wuhan, which is the epicentre of the virus's outbreak.

China are scheduled to play Thailand on Monday with Australia facing Taiwan in their opening fixture.

"FFA is working with the Australian Government and AFC to explore the ramifications of this advice and how it may affect the staging of the Women's Olympic Football Tournament Qualifiers," a statement released late on Wednesday said.

with AAP