40,000 youth cheerleaders, coaches, and spectators from across the country are expected to attend the Cheersport National Cheerleading Championship on Saturday and Sunday at Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta. Per GWCC manager of marketing and communications Randy Lieberman, this will be the largest in-person event held in the building since the pandemic took hold of the country last year.
Despite this, organizers don’t seem to be overly focused on social distancing. In fact, Varsity Spirit told CNN that cheerers don’t need to wear masks for their performances. Although guests are suggested to be limited to two per athlete, Varsity Spirit explains that athletes and fans “assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19” by attending the event. Also, GWCC states it can’t “guarantee someone’s safety.”
“[Our] first priority is the health and safety of our team members and guests. We are adhering to all recommended CDC guidelines and executive orders as well as implementing a comprehensive mitigation strategy designed to meet the health and safety challenges presented by COVID,” GWCC said. “We are confident that our efforts, combined with those of our customers, are creating safe environments for events on our campus.”
The risk of transmission is only increased by the area in which its being held. Per the Georgia Department of Public Health’s most recent report, Fulton County has experienced a 9.8% COVID-19 positivity rate over the last two weeks. Also, Fulton County has seen over 71,000 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. This is second in the country only to nearby Gwinnett County.
Varsity Spirit seems to be taking advantage of the state’s guidelines. Another competition hosted by the cheer association is scheduled for later this month, while it’s virtual competition is being held in Dallas, Texas.