New Zealand struggles with new COVID-19 regulations, nearly all events cancelled

(Photo: Challenge Wanaka Facebook)

As New Zealand currently deals with the “arrival” of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, the event industry struggles. Like many other races, Challenge Wanaka just made the call to cancel their event, which was planned for Feb. 19, 2022. The organization behind Ironman New Zealand, scheduled for Mar. 5, hasn’t yet decided to call it off, but it will likely follow soon.

After nearly two years of a harsh travel restrictions for people entering New Zealand, it seemed like the country was going to re-open up in the beginning of 2022. Now, with the new COVID-19 variant emerging, stricter regulations – referred to as “level red” – have been announced.

“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 Wanaka and across New Zealand”, Challenge Wanaka stated in today’s press release. “As a non-for-profit, community based organization, 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.”

Because Challenge Wanaka decided to cancel before Jan. 31, they can give all competitors either a 75 percent refund or a free transfer to next year’s race. “After the Jan. 31, the festival would incur considerable financial outlay it would not be able to recoup, limiting our ability to provide a refund to our loyal athletes”, they explained.