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Coronavirus Update: Triathlon Canada strongly recommends that athletes return to Canada

Triathlon Canada is recommending that athletes cease international travel immediately, but elite Canadian athletes will be able to race at ITU events this weekend.

Triathlon Canada recommends that athletes “either competing or thinking of competing internationally” should return to Canada, but has been able to get insurance for elite athletes competing at ITU events in Australia and Florida this weekend.

Triathlon Canada has been able to get insurance for its athletes racing at the ITU Triathlon World Cup Mooloolaba this weekend, so Alexis Lepage will be able to compete.

Triathletes across Canada woke this morning to an email sent by Kim Van Bruggen, the Chief Executive Officer of Triathlon Canada, with the subject line: Triathlon Canada World Wide Travel Advisory.

Citing that Triathlon Canada “has just been informed that our insurance company will no longer insure athletes while abroad,” the email recommends that athletes who are “either competing or thinking of competing internationally return to Canada as soon as possible if you are abroad” and “plan to cease international travel until further notice.”

Related: Triathlon and the Coronavirus – latest updates

The message also cites a “growing risk with personal insurance coverage due to the global situation” and that, according to ITU rules, “all athletes must carry personal insurance.” If athletes are unable to “obtain personal insurance” Triathlon Canada will have to withdraw athletes on start lists and stop entering athletes into events.

For ITU events such as the this weekend’s Mooloolaba World Cup, athletes are entered by their National Governing Body (NGB). According to Van Bruggen, Triathlon Canada was able to find another insurance company to provide individual insurance for this weekend’s racing. That means the four athletes competing in Australia – Matthew Sharpe, Alexis Lepage, Amelie Kretz and Emy Legault – and the large Canadian contingent looking to compete at the ITU Sarasota-Bradenton Triathlon World Cup, will be able to compete.

So how does this affect age group athletes looking to compete at international events?

According to Van Bruggen, “We (Triathlon Canada) can’t prevent age group triathletes from competing, especially if they are not competing in non-ITU events.” That means that if athletes have individual insurance, and can get a one-day license for the race, they will be able to compete. This weekend Ironman is hosting two 70.3 races in North America – Campeche, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Below is the text from Van Bruggen’s email:

As most of you have been following the evolving situation around the world, you are aware of inherent risks with travel and health as defined by various government agencies.  As of March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared the situation as a pandemic.  Additionally, a few countries have implemented regional bans culminating with the USA declaring a European ban on March 11, 2020. 
Triathlon Canada is following the direction of our government and health professionals.  However, with the uncertainty and possible risks related to travel, as of March 11, 2020 2000 PST, Triathlon Canada is strongly recommending the following actions for all athletes who are either competing or thinking of competing internationally,

  • Return to Canada as soon as possible if you are abroad.
  • Plan to cease international travel until further notice

There is also a growing risk with personal insurance coverage due to the global situation.  We have just been informed that our insurance company will no longer insure athletes while abroad.  Triathlon Canada is actively looking to find a solution.  We will be informing athletes ASAP of their insurance status.  As required by the ITU (Rule 2.6) and other race organizers, all athletes must carry personal insurance.   If personal insurance becomes void or an athlete cannot obtain person insurance, Triathlon Canada will be forced to,

  1. Withdraw athletes already on a start list or,
  2. Cease to place athletes on any start list or wait list

Triathlon Canada is aware that the current global situation is changing by the hour.   We are conscious of the fact that competition is critical to an athlete, especially this year, and we will do everything possible to ensure that any disruptions to selection or qualification are minimized to the greatest extent possible.  However, our recommendations are prioritizing athlete/coach/officials/staff health and safety.

Van Bruggen says that Triathlon Canada wants age group athletes to ensure that they have medical insurance while competing internationally, which is why Triathlon Canada distributed the message to all of its members. National team athletes are being encouraged to return to Canada immediately from training camps – she says that Olympic medal-hopeful Tyler Mislawchuk “is on his way back” from Europe now and expects that all national team members will follow suit.

“We want to make sure that athletes aren’t in a position where they’re stuck (in another country),” she said, referring to last night’s sudden announcement that the United States was limiting travel from European countries. “In the meantime its important that we all be as proactive as possible.”