IRONMAN today announced the postponement of both the IRONMAN World Championships and IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in 2020, citing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2020 IRONMAN World Championships will now take place on February 6, 2021, marking the return of the race to its original race month and the first time two IRONMAN distance world championships will be contested since 1982. IRONMAN vows to continue to work with local authorities to determine an official race date for the 70.3 World Championships in Taupo, New Zealand.
In a press release, IRONMAN cited their ongoing monitoring of the COVID-19 pandemic and work alongside local authorities in determining that the respective races could not go forward on their originally scheduled dates. IRONMAN also cited the ongoing postponement of qualifying races, reducing the pool of athletes that could potentially travel to said races, as a contributing factor. With the postponement, the qualification window for the 2020 World Championship events will be extended, with additional details to be provided on IRONMAN's website.
Athletes who have already qualified for the 2020 IRONMAN World Championships are allowed one of three choices: (1) to remain in the re-scheduled February date; (2) defer to the October 2021 race; or (3) transfer their entry to the IRONMAN event of their choice, subject to space in the event and border/travel restrictions.
Local authorities in both Kona and Taupo championed the move.
"We fully support their decision to postpone these races, and we feel that it is the right thing to do to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our community,” said Ross Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau. "We look forward to welcoming them back when the time is right and will do our best to assist with the transition.”
Taupo District Mayor David Trewavas said, “This was no doubt a difficult decision, but the most important thing is that we as a community are ready to welcome these athletes when the time is right. We are proud to be home to the iconic IRONMAN New Zealand triathlon and are ready to showcase exactly why that is to the rest of the world. Bring on 2021.”
In a troubled economy, postponing the event has significant financial implications for the host regions. In a Markrich Research study, the estimated economic impact of the 2019 IRONMAN World Championships was $72 million. For Taupo, the estimated economic impact for the 70.3 World Championships is approximately $12 million.