COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced on Thursday that spectators will not be permitted on this weekend’s Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over coronavirus concerns.
There are still no confirmed cases in the state of Ohio.
DeWine said he worked with Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton and Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther to make the decision.
“The mayor, our public health officials and I are gravely concerned that that the event as organized poses a unique and unacceptable risk for the spread of COVID-19 for guests and the community,” DeWine said.
The governor’s office said athletes will still be able to compete in the weekend’s events and a few competition finals will be open to spectators.
“These concerns include the attendance of individuals from more than 80 countries and from other parts of the United States affected by COVID-19. We are also concerned that that almost all the athletic competitions at the festival are not single-ticket events and are rather general admission, which allows for spectators to attend dozens of events and travel freely from facility to facility. These facts make this unique event significantly different than any other event we know of in this state. With these public health concerns in mind, the State has issued an order prohibiting general spectators from attending.”
The order says the following:
1. The Arnold Sports and Fitness Expo is prohibited from allowing the public to attend events as part of the Arnold Sports and Fitness Expo scheduled for March 5-8, 2020 at the following venues:
- Greater Columbus Convention Center (400 N. High St., Columbus, Ohio 43215)
- Ohio Expo Center (717 E. 17th, Columbus, Ohio 43211)
- Hyatt Regency Columbus (350 N. High St., Columbus, Ohio 43215)
2. The Arnold Sports and Fitness Expo may allow the parents or guardians of any minor competing in an event at the Arnold Sports and Fitness Expo to attend the event(s) in which their child(ren) are participating. The parents or guardians must have appropriate identification to prove they are the parent or guardian of a minor participating in the Arnold Sports and Fitness Expo.
3. On Friday March 6, 2020 the Arnold Sports and Fitness Expo is permitted to admit spectators to the following four events scheduled for 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in the Battelle Grand at the Columbus Convention Center:
- Fitness International—Finals
- Figure International—Finals
- Women’s Physique—Finals
- Classic Physique—Finals
4. On Saturday March 7, 2020, the Arnold Sports and Fitness Expo is permitted to admit spectators to the following four events scheduled for 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. in the Battelle Grand at the Columbus Convention Center:
- Men’s Physique—Finals
- Arnold Classic—Finals
- Arnold Strongman Classic
- Bikini International—Finals