COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Arnold Festival fans continue to question why they can’t attend most of the weekend’s athletic events. They’re being barred from events at the convention center but offered specials to go elsewhere.
Ticket holders are being offered free or discounted tickets to other attractions in the area. They’re also being offered specials at some local businesses.
“All those people who are standing around the convention center waiting to go in, so now what do they do, they can’t go in there so they’re coming out to all the bars or wherever they can go,” said Mike Castellan who’s in town for his adult daughter who’s competing. “So it’s the same people there that are out here so what’s the difference.”
According to a spokesperson for Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, the decision was made to keep spectators out because of what local leaders are calling ‘unique circumstances.’ In an email she listed those circumstances as 22 thousand athletes from 80 countries, 200 thousand visitors, many from outside Central Ohio, including international audiences.
“A large gathering of this type that puts thousands of people in confined spaces where people can move from space to space over four days increased the risk of exposure to COVID-19,” wrote Robin Davis, Mayor Ginther’s Director of Media Relations. “The zoo, museums and restaurants do not present the same unique combination of circumstances. There is not the same volume of people or length of time.”
Instead of watching his 29-year-old daughter compete from inside the convention center, he watched from a bar about a quarter of a mile away.
“It’s disheartening, we’re sitting in a bar watching our daughter compete where you just don’t fathom things like that happen,” he said.