by Christian Duque
The Arnold Classic 2020 will go down in history, not as an event that is almost derailing due to health concerns about the coronavirus, but almost derailed due to the overreaction and disregard for the patent by the state of Ohio. The bottom line is that the city of Columbus and the state of Ohio are aware that Columbus hosts one of the world's largest and most respected trade fairs, Arnold Schwarzenegger's namesake, at a scheduled time each year.
This three-day event package provides a lot of positive media coverage and creates fantastic interest for the community. As a result, local businesses thrive and rely on it. Hotel prices are soaring while occupancy and years of waiting lists are still pending. There are many houses in the restaurants that are full of fitness and tip enthusiasts. Selling retail stores, taxis and rideshare are seeing tariffs rise in the city center, and as the Arnold Sports Festival grows, more and more sports are added. Well, after 2020, I hope that the Arnold Classic organizers will at least partially judge whether Columbus is still the ideal place for their world-class festival.
There are now Arnold Classics on several continents worldwide, where local and national managers work closely with organizers. Who doesn't want a world class event like this where they live?!?! That being said, the flagship will always be Columbus – or will it? The idea that the state of Ohio was clumsy and hasty to act in just 48 hours is insane !! They basically forced the cancellation of an exhibition that offered 250,000 people just a few hours before the doors opened. They sent the police over to prevent viewers from taking their seats on Arnold Amatuer's day, when the athletes checked in to compete. Imagine all these amazing athletes traveling from all over the world who don't know if they can compete until an hour ago, and if they can, their friends and family who have traveled with them cannot see them because they are not allowed to enter the venue. Ohio has not only made a fool of itself, it is probably the same for the whole nation, as many of these viewers will return to their home countries and think we have no idea how to properly deal with a crisis in the United States.
The fact is that public health and wellbeing is a key concern. States, with the support of the 10th amendment, can make great efforts to ensure people's security. If necessary, they can even successfully compete against the federal government; However, I believe that Ohio acted irresponsibly in its decision to act so drastically. While the decision to stop the exhibition may have been the right one, trying to prevent Arnold Amateur's viewers without notice was a gross overshoot, especially since the state didn't block viewers at Friday and Saturday events. This knee-jerk movement had no justification; All it did was create more hysteria and continue to sabotage the already crippled festival. While legal action may prove futile, the event should seek serious assurances for the future and / or consider moving. Honestly, with new events like Athleticon on the horizon, the Arnold Classic simply can't have another 2020, and that presupposes that 2020 won't significantly hinder a successful year 2021 and beyond.
Many companies understood the decision to stop the fair. For the most part, you have tens of thousands of people in an open exhibition area at any given time. Often people are in a confined space and personal space is often a luxury that only a few have. There are many physical interactions (e.g. shaking hands, hugging), there are stalls where people train for prices, and there are also situations where people push for shirts and other prices that are thrown at them. Famous business people like Marc Lobliner understood the move and will be back next year, but what about smaller or newer companies that are not so familiar with the industry? What about companies that have just discovered the event or who have opted for fitness for the first time? Will they give The Arnold the benefit of the doubt again?
Sure, the show is postponed, but most vendors had already shipped all of their pallets to Columbus when the decision to cancel the show was announced. Larger themed companies need trucks to transport them and local crews to build them. Some of these larger stands take days to set up. Transport and labor costs are not reimbursed. In some cases, accommodation fees have been calculated in advance and may not be refundable, or only credits / vouchers can be received. Many airline tickets, especially those purchased through third parties (e.g. Priceline, Travelocity, Orbitz) may not be canceled – some may be canceled, but require a $ 75 cancellation fee. Who pays this cancellation fee? I give you a guess. Assuming that companies can bear the losses, how many of them will want to take part in a postponed trade fair that doesn't take place next to the second most important bodybuilding and bodybuilding event in the world? There will also be no power lifting. What will be there is any other sport that has been canceled plus the full exhibition. Who believes this will result in a significant drop in visitor numbers? And if the number of visitors to the postponed fair drops significantly, what does this mean for providers who have paid top dollars for March-like numbers?
The cancellation may have made sense, but what if you prevented viewers from entering the Arnold Amateur hall? Over 250,000 come and go through the three-day exhibition, but only 4,000 spectators would have seen the Arnold Amateur – that's only a fraction of the number of people who would see a major sports arena event. Why did the Ohio State Department of Health need to crawl law enforcement to prevent viewers from opening the doors? In addition to the apparent lack of justification for the move, this is compounded by more loss of revenue for the event, greater inconvenience for participants, and further aggravation of growing hysteria on the Internet and across the city.
Against this background, other exhibitions in other parts of the country (and even internationally) have either been canceled and / or postponed. The corona virus and / or other crises (e.g. natural disasters, acts of God) will test how both the public and private sectors react. Sometimes difficult calls have to be made to deal with difficult situations.
Arnold's plea to the governor of Ohio should have received at least some attention – one governor to another. The bottom line, Ohio isn't particularly interested in a bodybuilding event, no matter how big it is, no matter how long it takes, and no matter how much income it generates. If I am right, it is a very sad state of affairs, but hopefully my concerns are based more on emotions than on actual reality.
What do you think? Would the state of Ohio have acted differently if this had been an NBA or NFL event? Was the state's response stubborn, irrational, or completely rational and appropriate? I look forward to reading your feedback in the comments section or wherever you see this story.
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