COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — Arnold Sports Festival officials responded Thursday to the order from Governor DeWine and the State of Ohio Health Department to prevent fans from watching most of the competitions.
"We did try to fight for fans to watch sporting events," said Daniel Ketchell the Chief of Staff for team Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Ketchell says they tried to give athletes competing for the chance to have their loved ones watch. But fans were kept out because of fears of COVID-19.
"The only event the Governor's office will let us move forward with are Friday and Saturday nights show in Batelle Hall, bodybuilding and strongman finals," said Ketchell.
And the decision not only has the Arnold Sports Festival frustrated but those who spent months prepping for their competition. Alyson Riley getting ready for the Bikini Class B competition.
"The Arnold is like one of the biggest shows in the United States, so it's a dream show," said Riley.
She says she's been prepping for months and now she's heartbroken that her support team won't be able to cheer her on while she's on stage.
"Not having my mom or my dad be able to come in. They've supported me this whole time and not having them come in with me is really disappointing," said Riley.
The Arnold has complied with shutting down the expo. Officials will not fight the state's order of no spectators for most of their events. They can't understand the logic behind the decision.
"We will be giving fans their money back. We'll be issuing refunds. We're accepting that as our loss," said Ketchell. " And our only question is why other similar events are not facing the same loss from the state health department.