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Coronavirus is 'overhyped': Wrestling coach defies COVID-19 as U.S. collegiate tournament goes ahead in Texas

Coronavirus is 'overhyped': Wrestling coach defies COVID-19 as U.S. collegiate tournament goes ahead in Texas
A college wrestling coach played down the threat of the coronavirus, labeling the global pandemic "overhyped" as he led his team in the weekend's national championships.

Jesse Castro, coach of Liberty University's wrestling team, insisted on leading his team to the National Collegiate Wrestling Association's national championships over the past weekend in Allen, Texas.

The NCWA operates outside the auspices of the NCAA, which suspended all of their sporting events and championships, including the world-famous March Madness basketball tournament, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Despite the withdrawal of 11 schools from the tournament, the competition went ahead as planned, as more than 600 athletes from 84 colleges took to the mats to compete in the national championships.

One of those teams was led by Castro, who downplayed the global response to COVID-19 in an interview with the Dallas Morning News.

"From a philosophical perspective, do I think it’s overhyped? Yes, I do," he said.

"You know the talking points. We’ve dealt with this kind of stuff before. We’re vigilant and we use common sense, but I refuse to live in fear. I’m not gonna do that."

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Local government officials had recommended the postponement of the tournament, but the competition's executive director Jim Giunta insisted the tournament proceeded as planned, telling the Dallas Morning News that he felt "a lot of this is driven by fear," and "we're going to operate on faith, rather than fear."

According to the publication, the mats used for competition were sanitized just three times during the course of each day and, despite rules stating the athletes registering a temperature over 100.4 degrees would be disqualified, officials confirmed that no athletes' temperatures were taken at the event.

The only noticeable difference in proceedings was in the actions of the referees, who were not allowed to raise the hands of the winner after each match.

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