The decision by Illinois officials to cancel a world sport-shooting championship in southern Illinois because of the coronavirus pandemic has lawmakers from the area upset.
The Southern Illinoisan reports that the 121st Grand American World Trapshooting Championships at a state-owned complex near Sparta, scheduled for Aug. 5-15, is canceled.
The event generates about $30 million in sales tax revenue from visitors lodging and eating in the area.
But the state public health director, Dr. Ngoze Ezike, and Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Colleen Callahan concluded they could not prevent transmission of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. People from around the world come to the shooting event.
Rep. Terri Bryant, a Murphysboro Republican, called the decision a “$30 million kick in the gut.”
Democratic Steeleville Rep. Nathan Reitz says advocates worked all last weekend on a safety plan and delivered a 41-page outline to the departments of Public Health and Natural Resources.
“I thought the plan was thorough and ensured the safety of everyone, competitors and spectators,” Reitz said. “I’m absolutely disappointed that we’re not going to be having it. I just hope it doesn’t drive some participants out.”
Ezike and Callahan said they were concerned about an inability to screen visitors for the illness, limited health care capacity in the area and the ability to control the size of crowds. Under the state’s current recovery plan, groups of no more than 10 may congregate. Many believe that restrictions on the size of congregations will be loosened further by August.
Residents in southern Illinois have harbored resentment against the closing of schools, nonessential businesses and restrictions on social interaction since April because the hardest hit area is Chicago and the northeast part of the state. Sparta is 324 miles southwest of Chicago.