Gymnastics competition set to be Tacoma’s first major Phase 2 event

VIDEO: Gymnastics competition set to be Tacoma’s first major Phase 2 event

TACOMA, Wash. — The Charity Choice Invitational will take place next week in Tacoma, marking the city’s first major event since the initial state COVID-19 restrictions took effect in March 2020.

Local tourism officials anticipate at least 3,000 people will attend the competition over the course of four days next week from Friday to Monday. Roughly 830 people are expected to come and go from the Greater Tacoma Convention Center daily.

Pierce County’s recent move into Phase 2 cleared the way for the annual event, which was already on the calendar, to take place with mandatory safety guidelines.

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“The headline is kind of big because it talks about a lot of people coming to Tacoma,” said Dean Burke, President and CEO of Travel Tacoma – Mt. Rainier Tourism and Sports. “Like anything, the devil’s in the details.”

The Washington State Department of Health said gymnastics is considered a low-risk sport so tournaments are allowed as long as they follow specific guidelines, like mandatory face coverings and not exceeding “25% of the fire code occupancy.”

“The main room where competition is going to be has a limit of 200 at peak so that’s as high as it can go and that’s a huge space,” said Burke.

Kim Bedier, Director of Tacoma Venues & Events, told KIRO 7 staff has been preparing for months.

“We just received something in the building called GBAC Star Accreditation, that’s through a global biorisk organization, which basically means we have the highest standards of sanitization,” said Bedier. “So we’ll be in there with specialized equipment, special sanitation; we’ve revised our HVAC standards. We’ve done everything we possibly could to make sure that it’s the safest possible situation so we feel we’re very ready for this.”

Charity Choice Invitational also lays out COVID-19 guidelines on its website, promising to “meet and exceed all mandated COVID guidelines and expectations.”

Travel Tacoma – Mt. Rainier Tourism and Sports said the competition will not be open to the public but will have registered spectators and estimates the direct economic impact to be between $650,000 and $1.7 million.

“The local downtown businesses, the hospitality businesses especially, are excited and hopeful,” said Burke. “I think this is the right size event to start.”

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department said in a statement to KIRO 7:

The state has set the rules for events like this. We support facilities following state guidance and encourage them to follow practices that reduce the spread of disease such as:

· Maximize distancing.

· Use of face coverings.

· Practice hand hygiene.

· Screen for symptoms to protect the health of attendees.

· Call on attendees to practice good habits.