DeWine: Arnold Sports Festival continuing; Expo canceled, spectators not permitted to attend

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH/WJW) — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that the Arnold Sports Festival will continue this weekend as scheduled but spectators will not be permitted to attend the event.

Gov. DeWine made this announcement during a press conference with other area officials on Tuesday evening.

The Governor, Columbus city officials and health experts discussed the steps being taken to keep the Arnold Sports Festival safe from the spread of the coronavirus.

DeWine says that following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, officials have decided to limit this year’s Arnold Sports Festival.

In addition to not allowing spectators at the event, the Governor also announced that the Arnold Fitness Expo show is canceled.

Spectators will be permitted, however, to attend the Arnold Classic finals on Saturday.

DeWine said that this decision was “not easy” but based on the information they have at this time, it is the “right decision.”

The press conference came amid growing concern about the virus.

A petition asked the city to cancel the festival due to concerns from the virus. The petition states the festival, set for this weekend, will bring thousands of people from up to 80 different countries to Columbus. As of 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, the petition has more than 8,900 signatures.

“Please consider our petition of canceling the 2020 Arnold Sports Festival (Mar 5-8, 2020) for the safety of all Ohioans, especially the children, the elderly, people with diabetes or other pre-existing conditions,” the petition states. 

Started in 1989, the Arnold is named for bodybuilder, actor, and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The event plays host to several sporting competitions including bodybuilding, fencing, gymnastics, pickleball, and many more. 

The festival will be held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, the Ohio Expo Center, and other venues in central Ohio. 

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