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Ironman moves world championship to February

Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Taupo, New Zealand also postponed but no new dates announced.

You heard it here first! The Ironman World Championship has been moved to February 6, 2021.

The bike start at the 2019 Ironman World Championship as spectators wait for the first athletes to exit the water. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

Related: Will the Ironman World Championship take place next February?

Last month we predicted here at Triathlon Magazine Canada that it made sense to move the Ironman World Championship to February to accommodate the changes in qualification races due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Today Ironman announced that the race would in fact be moved to February 6. The Ironman 70.3 World Championship has also been postponed, but no new dates have been announced.

“In conjunction with host city partners and authorities in Hawai`i, United States and Taupō, New Zealand, that due to the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the 2020 editions of the Ironman World Championship and Ironman 70.3 World Championship cannot take place on their originally scheduled dates,” the release stated. “The Ironman World Championship will now take place on February 6, 2021 returning to its historic original race month and marking 40 years since it first took place in Kailua-Kona on the Island of Hawai`i. While a new date for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship has not yet been determined, teams are working diligently with local and national officials and authorities to secure a date for early 2021.”

“Ironman has been closely monitoring the situation and guidance by the Hawaiian and New Zealand governments regarding mass gatherings, border and travel restrictions and other COVID-19 related issues to assess the feasibility of hosting the 2020 Ironman World Championship and 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship,” the release continued. “Additionally, as the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact events around the world, both world championship events have seen a majority of their respective qualifying events postponed or unable to take place in 2020, impeding the ability to produce and host truly competitive world championship events. Based on these factors and circumstances beyond our control, coupled with a mission to give athletes and communities as much preparation time as possible, it is clear the world championship events cannot proceed as planned in October and November, respectively.”

This means that as it did in 1982, Ironman will host two editions of the Ironman World Championship. Ironman has extended the qualifying window for the February event – we’ve been updating the cancellations and rescheduled events here.

Moving the race to February will no-doubt make for some challenges for the local community as they balance a normally busy time for tourism with the influx of thousands of athletes and their families, but the community seems ready for the challenge.

“The Ironman World Championship has been a cornerstone in showcasing our island’s attributes to the world for decades,” said Ross Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawai`i Visitors Bureau. “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 well being of our community. It also allows supporting industries to prepare the resources necessary to maintain the high standard the event has created over the years. We look forward to welcoming them back when the time is right and will do our best to assist with the transition.”

“The County of Hawai`i supports Ironman’s difficult decision to postpone the October 2020 Ironman World Championship event to early 2021. We look forward to welcoming the athletes, their families and supporters in early February of 2021,” said Harry Kim, Honorable Mayor for Kona.

Taupō District Mayor David Trewavas said the postponement was expected given the effect COVID-19 was having on New Zealand and the world. “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.”