Just as ONE Championship recently did in Singapore, the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio will go on as scheduled, but due to concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, spectators are barred from the event and the trade show is canceled.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced on Tuesday that the athletic competitions will go on as scheduled but no one will be allowed in the Greater Columbus Convention Center due to concerns over the coronavirus. Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther joined in on the press conference while actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joined via telephone.
“We all decided to move forward with the athlete competition of the Arnold Classic, but not to allow spectators or the trade show to continue, with the exception of the Arnold Classic Finals on Saturday night at the convention center,” DeWine said.
The only exception for spectators will be for the bodybuilding and strongman finals on Saturday night. That will take place at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
Started in 1989, the Arnold is named after Schwarzenegger. The event plays host to several sporting competitions including bodybuilding, fencing, gymnastics, pickleball, MMA, and many more. The event was expected to bring 250,000 people to Columbus, Schwarzenegger said, from 80 different countries.
“We have the biggest and best health and fitness festival in world, but we would never choose making money over people’s health,” Schwarzenegger said.
It’s a sad day for me and everyone at the @ArnoldSports team. But we will always put our fans’ health first. After discussions with @GovMikeDeWine, @MayorGinther, and the CDC, we will be postponing the expo because we can’t risk bringing 250,000 people together with #COVID19. pic.twitter.com/Fuzcmapxiy
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) March 3, 2020
Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts said they are excluding roughly 20 athletes from five affected countries: China, Iran, South Korea, Japan, and Italy.
Columbus Public Health will be monitoring more than 22,000 athletes as they arrive for the competitions. The health department will be meeting the athletes at the airport and questioning them about their recent travel.
Common signs of the coronavirus infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.