Ironman announced today that the rescheduled world championship events have now been canceled because of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
“It is with a heavy heart that we have made the decision to cancel the 2020 editions of the Ironman World Championship and Ironman 70.3 World Championship. While we were hopeful that we could welcome our athletes, their families, and supporters to these events in early 2021, the continued impact of the pandemic makes this impossible,” said Ironman CEO Andrew Messick in a statement.
This is the first time the Ironman World Championships will not take place in their 43 years—and the first time for the 70.3 event since its inception in 2006.
Messick noted that while it is only July and the events had been rescheduled for early 2021, it was important to make this decision now in order to give athletes and sponsors time to adjust their plans.
Ironman had previously announced that the World Championships held in Kona would be moved from October to Feb. 6, 2021—and that next year would feature two world championship events. The 70.3 World Championships had been scheduled for November in New Zealand and had also been postponed to early 2021, but a date had not yet been set.
The sole 2021 Ironman World Championships will now take place on Oct. 9 and the 2021 70.3 World Championships will take place on Sept. 17 and 18 in St. George, Utah. Ironman said they are working on holding the 2022 70.3 event in New Zealand, in place of the one that was supposed to happen this year.
Athletes who had already qualified will be given the option of racing in the 2021 or 2022 championship events, according to Ironman. Those athletes will be contacted directly. Athletes who have earned slots for the 70.3 World Championships via the Ironman virtual races will be awarded slots to the 2021 championships in St. George.
While the news comes as a disappointment, Hawaiian officials hinted it might happen as Hawaii continues to be under a 14-day quarantine for travelers entering the islands. When we spoke with the Kona mayor Harry Kim last month, he said he hoped Ironman would be able to return in February—but that it was hard to know how the pandemic would play out in the country or around the globe. “Unfortunately, we can only control our state and our island. We can’t control what happens between now and then in the places where people will be coming from. The success of the event in February will depend on the rest of the world,” he said at the time.
“It is disappointing not to be able to provide our racing community with the opportunity to compete in the Ironman World Championship for the first time in our 43 year history,” said CEO Messick. “We will endure, however, and look forward to the day when we will again assemble the greatest professional and age-group triathletes in the world and crown world champions.”