Earlier this week we reported that Challenge Taiwan is going ahead this weekend with an expected 6,000 participants. A few days before the race Ironman announced that Ironman Taiwan “cannot take place in 2021 and is now scheduled to return on April 10, 2022.”
Ironman Taiwan was originally scheduled for March 21. In February Ironman announced that the race had to be postponed due to “continued guidelines and precautions mandated by the Penghu County Government in relation to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
Late Wednesday night Ironman made a follow-up announcement saying that “after evaluating all possible options with local authorities” the event had to be rescheduled to next year.
Ironman also has a race taking place this weekend in Taiwan – Ironman 70.3 Kenting seems to have about 400 participants registered. Kenting is on Taiwan’s southern coast and is where the first Ironman and Ironman 70.3 Taiwan races took place. In September Ironman will host another 70.3 race in Taitung, which is where this weekend’s Challenge Taiwan will take place.
To date, Taiwan has only had 11 deaths from COVID-19, with a total of 1,076 cases of the disease. That seems to have cleared the way for races to take place in parts of the country, but some regions appear to be maintaining restrictions.
The full-distance Ironman event takes place in Penghu, an archipelago in the southwest of the Taiwan Straight. Ironman moved the event to a tourist destination in 2016. According to a Taiwan News report in March the local Penghu County Government had cancelled a swim event scheduled for June 6 with an expected 1,000 participants due to concerns that “COVID-10 poses too much of a risk.” That news report cites an “International Ironman Triathlon for 600 athletes the following day,” but that “organizers also decided against going ahead.” If the race had included 600 athletes this year it would have been bigger than the 2019 race that had 498 competitors. The year before there were 894 athletes in the race, 2017 had 696, while 2016 featured Ironman Taiwan’s largest field with 922 athletes.
The fact that Taiwan is still not open to tourists is likely a factor in Ironman’s decision to cancel this year’s race – a lack of foreign participation would only have diminished the size of the field. Any foreign athletes competing at Challenge Taiwan this weekend will be those living in Taiwan.