COLUMBUS, OH (WCMH)–More than 18 months after it became one of the first events to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arnold Classic will return to Columbus this weekend.
On Saturday, winners will be crowned in the Arnold Classic men’s open bodybuilding, Arnold Classic Physique, Fitness International, and Bikini International competitions.
In total, 42 athletes will compete in the one-day event and organizers say that all 42 have been tested for COVID-19.
“We’re absolutely excited to be able to put on live events again, in whatever form they may be,” said Brian Powers, the executive director of the Arnold Sports Festival.
In 2020, the festival’s EXPO was canceled, and a very limited number of fans were allowed to attend events.
While the full festival will not take place this year, Powers said up to 2,000 fans will be allowed to attend the Arnold Classic. Spectators will be required to wear masks, in accordance with the city’s mask ordinance.
“It’s definitely a lot better than just you and the judges and like utter silence, or just the cameras clicking, you know,” said Terrence Ruffin, a classic physique athlete. “That’s a little awkward sometimes, but definitely having a crowd there — it hypes you up. It gets you more motivated. It’s a lot of fun.”
Organizers have said the full Arnold Sports Festival will return to Columbus in 2022 and be held from March 3-6, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.