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Arnold Festival Preps For Coronavirus As Competitors Gather In Columbus

Arnold Sports Festival at the Great Columbus Convention Center in 2018.
Arnold Sports Festival
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Arnold Sports Festival at the Great Columbus Convention Center in 2018.

The annual Arnold Sports Festival arrives in Columbus on Thursday, and officials are taking action to halt the spread of the coronavirus amid the flood of athletes and onlookers. 

The Arnold Sports Festival is the world’s largest multi-sport festival. Organizers of the health and fitness celebration expect that 22,000 participants from 80 nations will descend on Columbus from March 5-8, 2020 to participate. 

More than 200,000 spectators are also anticipated at the festival’s 80 events.

In a statement released on Friday, organizers say they will screen all athletes for symptoms of the virus during the Festival's check-in process. Mount Carmel Health Center, the event's official health partner, will conduct the screenings. 

Organizers also noted that they are working with the Greater Columbus Convention Center and the Ohio Expo Center, where many of the Festival’s events will be held, to take precautions against the virus. However, organizers say that they do not anticipate any changes to the Festival’s schedule due to COVID-19.

Neither the Arnold Sports Festival or Mount Carmel Health Center responded to requests for comment.

On Sunday, a representative from the Ohio Department of Health said there were no confirmed coronavirus cases in the state. 

The Columbus Department of Public Health said that no COVID-19 cases have been reported in Columbus as of Monday. However, travelers from China to the region were being monitored, according to the organization. 

COVID-19 had been detected in 67 countries, with six deaths in the United States so far.