Arnold Expo canceled after coronavirus concerns

Published: Mar. 4, 2020 at 4:23 PM EST
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Angela Yeo knows what its like to compete in the Arnold Classic in Columbus. It's part of the Arnold Sports Festival, the largest multi-sport event in the world.

"I took third place in women's physique. It was my second show ever and it changed my life," Yeo said. "I had never been on a stage that big in my life ever."

She planned on heading to Columbus this weekend to support local athletes who are competing: Kyle Dussel, a 1st lieutenant with the U.S. Army Reserves in Monclova, and Marcus Waugh, a Toledo firefighter and Anthony Wayne football coach.

However, the event was closed to the public due to concerns over the coronavirus. While the competitions are still being held, the expo will not happen, and spectators won't be allowed in before the finals.

It's not just competitors who are affected by the decision. Local businesses that were planning on attending the expo are at a loss. Bullfrog Nutrition in Sylvania is still waiting to hear more from the organizers of he expo about rescheduled dates or reimbursements.

The company will still host their annual pre-party at their Columbus location Thursday night, and they're inviting other businesses to join them.

"There was a lot of people left without a lot of warning, not knowing what to do, so for our event, we did invite those local brands or even small brands that are in town that don't have the means to do anything else," Bullfrog owner Gabriella Mickel said.

A letter sent to vendors said, "The Governor of Ohio and the Mayor of Columbus have decreed that the threat of the Corona Virus requires that this very high attendance public gathering not move forward. Because the Arnold Sports Festival is the largest multi-sport event in the world, we feel directed by the state authorities not to present our great Arnold Classic Fitness Expo during the current serious health risk period."

The owner of Definition Fitness in Sylvania said the Classic made the right call by canceling the expo.

"You're packed in like sardines," Marcus Zepata said. "It's an international competition. It brings in spectators from all over the world, so this was definitely the right call to make."

The annual bodybuilding event has been going on since 1989, attracting spectators from across the world. It's estimated approximately 250,000 visit Columbus for the event and expo.