The effects of the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have extended beyond the boxing schedule and onto its fraternity.
John Skipper, executive chairman of DAZN Group is confirmed to have contracted the infectious disease, although he has since fully recovered and has rejoined the work force. The longtime network executive officially tested positive for COVID-19 on March 16 after having felt ill in the preceding days, as first reported by Sports Business Daily’s John Ourand.
According to reports, Skipper, was never hospitalized during his quarantine time, instead recovering at home in New York City. The 62-year old spent the two-week period fighting through a fever and cold before his health was fully restored earlier this week.
Representatives fromDAZN did not respond to an inquiry fromBoxingScene.com seeking comment or confirmation as this goes to publish.
Skipper—originally from Lexington, North Carolina—reported back to work on Wednesday, working remotely from his NYC apartment.
His return to the work force comes at a peculiar time for DAZN. The over-the-top (OTT) media service was set to launch a global expansion, which would make it available in more than 200 countries and territories. That news was announced at the beginning of March, when the boxing schedule was still active and a loaded spring schedule was in place—including plans for DAZN Global to debut with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s targeted showdown with Billy Joe Saunders on May 2 live from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Things would go downhill in a hurry and has continued to get dramatically worse with each day. The subscription-based OTT service saw the postponement of several shows in March and April, along with end-of-month reports of DAZN Group alerting an undisclosed number of employees that they would be furloughed in the wake of the ongoing health crisis. Additionally, they became the first known media company to withhold rights fees to contracted sports leagues for events that were not made available due to postponements and cancellations during this period.
While Skipper is able to make his way back to his executive chair, an immediate priority would have to be convincing subscribers and current business partners that healthier sports days are ahead.
New York has by far the highest number of positive test cases in the United States, with nearly 84,000 total cases as of Wednesday evening. The state has also reported more than 2,200 deaths from the disease, which is on track to surpass 1,000,000 total cases worldwide by Thursday.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBoxBy Jake Donovan