Andrew Messick released a letter to those in the Ironman community about the effects of COVID-19 on the brand and its events. Here is the letter in full:
To our global community,
We know that both our athletes and our communities want to be racing; we do too.
While The IRONMAN Group’s mission is to provide exceptional, life-changing race experiences for athletes of all levels, from their first step to the finish line, we can only accomplish this by providing the safest possible environment, and safeguarding the citizens of our host communities.
COVID-19 has substantially altered the global sports landscape and will have material impact on the mass participation industry in the immediate term. We want to reassure you that the health and well-being of our community is our primary concern. To this end, we are doing our part to communicate effectively and follow public health agencies and governmental authorities’ recommendations.
We expect that there are going to be substantial and widespread event postponements in the coming weeks and months. The decision to proceed, restrict, modify or postpone an event will be based on availability of community resources and ongoing event-specific risk assessment in coordination with the relevant healthcare and government authorities and the IRONMAN Global Medical Advisory Board, an independent medical advisory board focused on health and safety.
For events that will continue, The IRONMAN Group, along with the IRONMAN Global Medical Advisory Board, has outlined a series of pragmatic and practical actions designed to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 or any other infectious agent to athletes and to members of our host communities. These steps will help athletes achieve their goals while allowing communities to secure the benefits of hosting mass participation sporting events. They will be implemented worldwide at all IRONMAN Group events beginning March 19 and will continue indefinitely.
Self-care and Risk Minimization
Athletes who are sick or have been potentially exposed to an infectious agent must not compete or attend events, as this puts others at risk. As a community, we each have a personal responsibility to protect each other by complying with this rule.
We ask that all athletes, volunteers and partners follow the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for basic protective measures against the new coronavirus:
• Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
• Regularly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash your hands with soap and water, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Practice good respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of used tissues immediately and appropriately in a bin.
Providing Flexibility to Athletes
Certain races will be postponed or cancelled due to the outbreak and we will communicate these as soon as practical. Our goal will be to move the race to a date later in the year. We work in close partnership with the relevant public health authorities in the territories where the races take place and err on the side of safety for our athletes and the host community. If an event cannot occur on the scheduled date, we will take the following actions:
• Postponement: Registered athletes for events that are postponed due to COVID-19 by the local health authorities are automatically transferred to the rescheduled date. For those that the new date does not work, we will allow deferrals into the same event the next year.
• Cancellation: Registered athletes for events that are cancelled due to COVID-19 by the local health authorities are automatically deferred to the same race in 2021.
• Other options: We are vetting other options to allow displaced athletes to race in 2020 and will communicate those in due course.
• Athletes in Quarantined/Restricted Territories: For athletes in certain designated quarantine or restricted territories who have registered for races that take place before June 1, 2020 and have NOT been postponed or cancelled, we will aid in finding alternative races later in the season. For those who are sick, feel unwell, or have been potentially exposed to an infectious agent in advance of a race that will take place, do not come to the race; instead seek medical care. Once you have done so, contact the relevant Athlete Services representative for your race and we will attempt to find you another solution.
Safe Event Experience
In order to provide the safest experience for our athletes, we are instituting the following at our races, effective March 19.
Reinforcing Social Distancing in all elements of the event:
o The hours of on-site event registration will be expanded.
o Athletes will be allowed to pick up their athlete race kit/race bib and immediately exit expo area.
o Athlete density will be decreased by increasing individual race space staging, corrals, etc.
o No-handshake behavior will be encouraged for the duration of the event.
o Athlete briefing information will be available digitally only.
o Non-core, high-contact services (e.g. wetsuit peeling) will be suspended.
o Staff and volunteers who are interacting with participants pre-race, on race day and postrace will be provided gloves.
o Hand-washing stations and sanitation stations around the venue for athletes, volunteers and spectators will be increased.
o No-touch waste disposal stations and receptacles will be rolled out as available.
o Frequently touched surfaces at race venue locations such as workstations, product distribution areas, tables and electronic devices will be cleaned regularly.
o When possible, on-course food and fluid supplies will be single use/single serving closed packaging.
o Athletes planning to return home by airplane or rail are encouraged to avoid travel post-event for 24 hours allowing their immune system time to recover post-race.
o No onsite interviews or press conference with professional athletes.
o No handshake/contact on the race podium.
o Printed document distribution will be eliminated.
o Education and awareness training regarding signs and symptoms of COVID-19 will be provided to all medical and volunteer staff.
o Frequent communication with health authorities and healthcare facilities will be implemented to assist in assessment, referral and initial management of suspected COVID-19 illness of staff, participants, volunteers, and spectators.
This is a highly dynamic situation and we will continue to adapt and adjust as appropriate. We appreciate your patience in the coming days and weeks.
We recognize that this is a challenging time but our community will endure. We are inspired by your ambition, and endeavor to be worthy of your commitment.
As further updates are available, they will be posted at www.ironman.com/updates and www.runrocknroll.com/updates in addition to our individual event sites and social media pages.
Thank you for your continued support, and we wish you the best in health and wellness.
President & Chief Executive Officer
The IRONMAN Group