It’s a slippery slope for Ironman events in the country given how the Philippines is dealing with the situation right now
Photo by Javier Lobregat
Last May, the Ironman group was reportedly sued for not refunding participants after many of their races around the world were postponed due to COVID-19. Despite these growing concerns and the rise of cases, Ironman CEO Andrew Messick made it clear that there will still be triathlon races in 2020—thus, offering refunds isn’t on the table just yet.
One race set to resume this year is the Century Tuna Ironman Philippines in Subic happening on Oct. 25. Ironman Subic, which was supposed to happen in June 2020. Via a statement on Facebook, its organizers said they are focused on delivering a safe and “outstanding” race for those involved. The statement also said that participants who cannot make it in October have the option to compete in another Ironman race in a different location instead.
“At this point, athletes who were affected by the rescheduled event have been provided options to race on a new date, or race within 12 months in other selected locations. Ironman Philippines has been and will continue to adhere to the global Ironman guidelines, providing athletes with options as mentioned on our website.”
This did not sit well with multiple triathlon teams around the world. Inquirer.net reported that more than 300 participants from countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the Philippines are demanding a refund. The race fee is reportedly worth P35,000, which several triathletes want to use for more urgent matters right now.
“A refund would be a humane gesture [on the] side [of race organizers],” Filipino International Triathletes president Rolando Seprado told Inquirer.net. “Sunrise [should] consider a humanitarian resolution.”
Race organizer Sunrise Events has also made it clear that it won’t refund participants. According to general manager Princess Galura, the event organizers are just following the rules of the World Ironman group and therefore cannot make any changes for Ironman Subic in particular. Galura encouraged participants to “trust the brand” as they aim to organize a safe race for triathletes.
To tri or not to tri?
As of writing, the Philippines has more than 35,000 COVID-19 cases and there is no clear time table on when a vaccine will be available. Although not affiliated with Ironman, the Philippine Sports Commission has said multiple times that there should not be any sports events held in the country until athletes are protected with a coronavirus vaccine.
That said, it’s a slippery slope for Ironman events in the country this year given how the Philippines is currently dealing with pandemic. The International Triathlon Union has already released its COVID-19 prevention guidelines for event organizers, which Messick says could likely be enforced in Ironman events.
Next Step Triathlon team coach and triathlete Dan Brown says that triathlon races can only go back to how it used to be if there are no more COVID-19 cases in the country. Brown told Multisport early in June that he expects triathlon events to take place only by February 2021, depending on how the country manages the crisis.