Thanks to “the emergence of Omicron in the New Zealand community,” and with the country “moving into the COVID-19 Protection Framework Traffic Light level red setting,” Challenge Wanaka, considered one of the world’s most beautiful triathlon events, has been cancelled.
“The team went through different operational scenarios and concluded that the socially responsible action to take was to cancel the event to protect the health of our athletes, tamariki, supporters, volunteers, staff and wider community here in Lake Wānaka and across New Zealand,” event organizers wrote in a release on the event website. “As a non-for-profit, community based organisation, we have had to make this incredibly hard decision for all involved. But the whole team believe it is the right decision considering the uncertainty we are all faced with and our duty of care. We feel for all our wonderful competitors and know they have put many hours of hard work into preparing for our events.”
“We have been working tirelessly on options on how we can continue,” says race director Bill Roxburgh. “But we strongly believe this option is the best for our competitors and community alike, in the face of what could be a prolonged length of time in the red light setting. We do not want to cause any extra burden on our healthcare system and the amazing frontline workers at this crucial point in time for Aotearoa. Traditionally, we bring in athletes and families from across our nation to beautiful Lake Wānaka, and this simply does not seem like the right thing to do, considering the predictions of how this outbreak could project over the coming weeks.”
“The experience from the US, UK and Australia suggests we can expect Omicron to be causing illness for at least the next two months,” said Challenge Wanaka Sports Trustee Dr Andrew McLeod, a local GP and athlete.
Athletes will be able to get 75 per cent of their entries refunded, or defer their entries to next year. Organizers are also working on virtual event through Rouvy.