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Officials fear Illinois wrestling tournament could become a coronavirus super-spreader event

Officials fear Illinois wrestling tournament could become a coronavirus super-spreader event after it was attended by hundreds of maskless competitors and viewers

  • The King of the Ring Christmas Bash was held at the Southland Center in Lynwood, Illinois, on Saturday and Sunday
  • It’s unknown how many people attended but a cap of 651 wrestlers were allowed to compete and each wrestler was allowed to bring two guests 
  • Several photos have emerged of competitors and viewers not wearing masks or practicing social distancing 
  • The general manager of the Southland Center said staff took temperatures and provided personal protective equipment if needed
  • The Cook County Department of Public Health says it is currently investigating the tournament and the Village of Lynwood has cited the Southland Center
  • No weekend events are being held at the facility until future notice, according to the mayor of Lynwood 
  • Officials fear that an Illinois wrestling tournament held over the weekend could become a potential super-spreader event.

    The King of the Ring Christmas Bash was held at the Southland Center in Lynwood, which is 28 miles south of Chicago and on the border with Indiana.

    Photos and videos emerged of hundreds of competitors and spectators not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.

    The Cook County Department of Public Health says it is currently investigating the event, and the Village of Lynwood has cited the Southland Center.  

    The King of the Ring Christmas Bash was held at the Southland Center in Lynwood, Illinois, on Saturday and Sunday

    It's unknown how many people attended but a cap of 651 wrestlers were allowed to compete and each wrestler was allowed to bring two guests

    It’s unknown how many people attended but a cap of 651 wrestlers were allowed to compete and each wrestler was allowed to bring two guests

    Several photos have emerged of competitors and viewers not wearing masks or practicing social distancing

    Several photos have emerged of competitors and viewers not wearing masks or practicing social distancing

    Illinois Gov JB Pritzker commented on the tournament during a press conference on Monday.

    ‘I would just say putting parents, teachers and coaches and the kids in danger is a terrible idea,’ Pritzker said. 

    ‘Especially when we are experiencing a number of deaths per day in the United States that is equivalent to a 9/11 every day. 

    The event, held on Saturday and Sunday, saw wrestlers attending from several states including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

    According to the Daily Southtown, the tournament was originally scheduled to be held at the Hammond Sportsplex in Hammond, Indiana.

    However, because the county that the facility is in – Lake County – prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people, the event was moved to Lynwood. 

    A maximum of 651 wrestlers were allowed to compete, the newspaper reported. 

    Southland Center General Manager Annie Byrne told the Daily Southtown that she implemented serval mitigation measures to ensure safety since the facility reopened in June.

    ‘We have done everything the right way,’ Byrne said. 

    ‘I have 25 hand sanitizers all over the place. I’ve taken out the water fountains and put in bottle fillers. 

    ‘We take temperatures. We spent more money that you can imagine on cleaning, masks, all proper [personal protective equipment] products. We have no spectators at all in the building during the week.’ 

    Byrne provided no comment to the newspaper on either the citation or the tournament itself. 

    The general manager of the Southland Center said staff took temperatures and provided personal protective equipment if needed

    The general manager of the Southland Center said staff took temperatures and provided personal protective equipment if needed

    The Cook County Department of Public Health says it is currently investigating the tournament and the Village of Lynwood has cited the Southland Center

    The Cook County Department of Public Health says it is currently investigating the tournament and the Village of Lynwood has cited the Southland Center

    No weekend events are being held at the facility until future notice, according to the mayor of Lynwood. Image courtesy of WGN-TV

    No weekend events are being held at the facility until future notice, according to the mayor of Lynwood. Image courtesy of WGN-TV

    Additionally on the Facebook event page, guests were told they had to have a temperature of 99.8F or less and wear a mask or face shield at all times.

    Only two spectators per wrestler were allowed inside and those above age 60 or  with preexisting conditions were recommended not to not attend.  

    Lynwood Mayor Eugene Williams told the Daily Southtown the citation does not come with a fine and serves as a warning. 

    ‘We reminded them what the governor’s stance is on this and that they were out of line,’ Williams said. 

    ‘It was like “We know what it is, we know you are blowing it.” So, I got apologies from them. That’s all. Simple as that. They blew it.’

    He added that no weekend events will be booked at the Southland Center until future notice.   

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