It has been a difficult week at IRONMAN, all stemming from ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. First came the announcement that the 70.3 World Championships in St. George, Utah would be consolidated to a single-day event. Now, IRONMAN has officially announced that the 2021 IRONMAN World Championships would be postponed until February 5th, 2022.
“The resurgence of the virus and new Delta strain has had significant impact on the island community of Hawai`i. Combined with substantial border closures and travel restrictions for qualified athletes, there is not a viable pathway in October to host the IRONMAN World Championship,” said Andrew Messick, President & Chief Executive Officer for The IRONMAN Group. “After extensive consultation with governmental and community leaders in Hawai`i, we believe that the best course of action is to delay the event until February of 2022.”
According to IRONMAN officials, the shift in mindset regarding the 2021 World Championships started approximately two weeks ago, as the state announced new restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings following a spike in COVID-19 cases attributable to the Delta variant. Conversations occurred on a near daily basis with county and state officials, hoping that numbers would change for the better. Numbers, however, did not improve. And in order to minimize the potential harm to arguably its most important host community, IRONMAN pushed to postpone the event.
As such, IRONMAN plans to host two world championship events in Kona next year: the postponed 2021 race in February, along with the regularly scheduled 2022 event on its traditional date in October. IRONMAN athletes who qualified for the 2021 World Championships will be directly contacted shortly. As of this point, IRONMAN expects there to be no changes to the qualification process for the October 2022 race.
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on Hawaii in many ways, both from a direct health impact as well as the significant economic impact from the greatly reduced traffic of tourists reaching the island. IRONMAN, as part of its response from postponing respective events in 2020 and 2021, created the Kahiau Together program to feed local residents suffering from food insecurity during the pandemic. By the end of this year, Kahiau Together will have served over 132,000 meals to the local community. IRONMAN has also pledged up to $1,000,000 in support for the program.
"I am deeply grateful for IRONMAN’s $1,000,000 commitment to feed our residents in need throughout 2020 and 2021 with their Kahiau Together program. As IRONMAN continues to mâlama and truly care about our island community, we look forward to welcoming the IRONMAN World Championship back in 2022 with our full support,” said State Senator Dru Mamo Kanuha.