FILE PHOTO: Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger attends the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
(Reuters) – This week’s Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio, will carry on with 22,000 athletes but spectators have been barred from all but one event due to concerns over the potential spread of the coronavirus, officials said on Tuesday.
The March 5-8 multi-sport festival, established by and named after world-renowned bodybuilder, actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, attracts athletes from 80 nations competing in over 80 events.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther held a joint news conference to announce the changes and were joined via telephone by Schwarzenegger.
“One thing that is very clear to us is that the coronavirus is dangerous,” said Schwarzenegger. “We would never chose making money over people’s health.”
The coronavirus outbreak has prompted the cancellation or postponement of numerous major international sporting events and raised concerns about the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games.
A trade show associated with the event was also cancelled and spectators will only be allowed to attend Saturday’s Arnold Classic World Bodybuilding Championship finals.
The multi-sport festival, which began in 1989 and was expected to bring 250,000 people together, consists of events including bodybuilding, fencing, gymnastics and many more.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell