Over the weekend, the ITU announced the postponement of the World Triathlon Abu Dhabi race that was set to kick off the season this weekend. The indefinite postponement is a precautionary measure to reduce the spread of 2019-nCoV Coronavirus, said ITU officials.
“The postponement of Abu Dhabi was a decision taken jointly with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and it was mainly based on travel restrictions imposed by some countries and airlines,” said ITU communications manager Olalla Cernuda.
Although no one from ITU or the local race organizers has tested positive for the virus or been sick, she said, two of the official race hotels were already in lockdown due to positive cases from people involved in the UAE Tour, a pro cycling stage race that was cancelled after just two stages.
According to VeloNews, after 48 hours in lockdown, media and riders quarantined in Abu Dhabi from that cycling race were eventually cleared to leave.
In addition to the elite WTS race planned for this weekend, there was also a mixed relay, paratriathlon World Cup, and age-group race planned. Around 300 elite athletes and about 2,500 age-group athletes were expected to participate in the events March 5-7.
As of right now, there is no new date or location set for the race to be rescheduled.
“ITU is closely monitoring the situation across the world and we will announce new dates as soon as possible,” said Cernuda.
Most of the athletes had not yet arrived in Abu Dhabi and so are not in lockdown or quarantined. According to USA Triathlon, no American athletes were yet on the ground in Abu Dhabi. Nine elite U.S. athletes were scheduled to race and one elite paratriathlete, but some of them had delayed their travels while they waited for word from ITU.
Katie Zaferes and her husband, for instance, were on the way to the airport in California when they decided to cancel their flights and wait, given what they were hearing from ITU.
Although this race doesn’t affect Olympic qualification for most countries, including the Americans, the race coming up in Yokohama, Japan on May 16-17 does serve as a qualifier for the Tokyo Games for a number of teams. It’s unclear, at this point, how that race will be affected by the ongoing Coronovirus concerns. It’s also unclear, at this point, if the Olympics in late July will be impacted. At least one member of the IOC has said the Olympics could be cancelled if the outbreak continues to spread.
As of right now, ITU and USAT officials say they are continuing to monitor the situation, keeping athletes apprised of any travel restrictions and health recommendations, and they will announce any changes to the schedule as soon as possible.
ITU World Triathlon Series
- Abu Dhabi, UAE
- April 18-19
- May 16-17
- Yokohama, Japan
- June 6-7
- Leeds, UK
- June 23-28
- Montreal, Canada
- July 11-12
- Hamburg, Germany
- July 27-28
- *Tokyo, Japan (OLYMPICS)
- Aug. 17-23
- Edmonton, Canada