Government and health officials from Ohio said Tuesday evening that this year’s Arnold Sports Festival will go on as scheduled, but because of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the trade show will be canceled and spectators will not be allowed.
Gov. Mike DeWine and Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther held a joint press conference where they made the announcement around 6pm adding that the competition for athletes will be allowed to continue.
“This was not an easy decision,” said DeWine. “But based upon what we know about this virus this was the right decision.
The Arnold Classic is set for this weekend, March 7-9, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, the Columbus Expo, and other locations in central Ohio.
A petition on change.org received close to 10,000 signatures asking the city to cancel the festival due to concerns from the virus.
The Arnold Classic brings thousands of people from up to 80 different countries to Columbus. It was started in 1989, after former bodybuilder, actor, and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Schwarzenegger phoned into the press conference and talked about the importance of safety over money in making this decision.
“No amount of money could force us to continue this event at the risk of our spectators,” Schwarzenegger said. “We are a health and fitness event and keeping people safe is the most important thing,”