Actor Gerard Butler ignored fears surrounding the coronavirus pandemic on Friday (13Mar20) to take part in the Olympic torch relay in Greece.
The 300 star, who portrayed Spartan leader King Leonidas in the 2006 action film, joined in the traditional ceremony leading up to the 2020 Summer Olympics, to be held in Tokyo, Japan, by carrying the beacon from Mystras to Sparta.
Butler was cheered on by a group of fans as he arrived at the event in Sparta, which was covered by a crowd of photographers and reporters - with no one in attendance appearing to heed medical advice about social distancing from World Health Organization officials.
Quoting his famous movie line as he addressed the gathering, Butler, who donned a red and white Tokyo 2020 shirt, said, "The land of legends, this is Sparta! Thank you, and may God bless this great city for eternity."
However, shortly after Butler's appearance, executives from the Greek Olympic Committee announced the suspension of the rest of the torch relay, blaming the "unexpectedly large crowd" which had turned out for Friday's event, despite organisers urging members of the public to stay away to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
The relay had kicked off in Ancient Olympia on Thursday, and although it will no longer continue on Greek soil, the Olympic Flame will still be handed over to representatives from the Tokyo organising committee in Athens on 19 March, before making its way to the Japanese capital in July - if the sporting extravaganza goes ahead as planned.
The coronavirus chaos has already prompted sports bosses around the world to put games on hiatus, including officials behind America's National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, and Major League Soccer, as well as England's Premier League, while golf championship The Masters Tournament and Formula One's Australian Grand Prix were also postponed on Friday.
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