During the Endurance Exchange conference, earlier this week, Ironman’s CEO Andrew Messick spoke about his expectations concerning COVID-19 and the possibility of racing in 2021. According to Messick there are three factors that will determine whether it’s possible to host races: how active the coronavirus is in a certain country or region, how far advanced the local vaccination program is, and travel restrictions.
Ironman expects a gradual return to racing with – for the first quarter of this year – races only taking place in regions that have relatively few cases. As examples, Messick mentioned New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan and Vietnam. In the second quarter of 2021 Ironman hopes for a better situation worldwide, and therefore a better chance for races to be held. For the third quarter of 2021 Messick feels things will be even better: “That’s when we’ll see Corona numbers dropping everywhere, have a bigger group of people that’s immune because of vaccinations, and have fewer travel restrictions.”
In terms of vaccination programs, Messick referred to Israel as an example of a country that could host a race, as many Israelis have already been vaccinated. However, Ironman does not host a race in Israel. Whether a proof of vaccination will ever be required for athletes to enter a race wasn’t something Messick discussed.
“We’re going to fight as hard as we can to get racing back soon,” Messick said. “We believe we can have safe races; safe for the hosts, volunteers and athletes.”