TAMPA, Fla. (May 14, 2020) – IRONMAN today announced in conjunction with host city partners and authorities in Hawai`i, United States, and Taupō, New Zealand, that due to the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the 2020 editions of the IRONMAN® World Championship and IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championship cannot take place on their originally scheduled dates. The IRONMAN World Championship will now take place on February 6, 2021 returning to its historic original race month and marking 40 years since it first took place in Kailua-Kona on the Island of Hawai`i. While a new date for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship has not yet been determined, teams are working diligently with local and national officials and authorities to secure a date for early 2021.
IRONMAN has been closely monitoring the situation and guidance by the Hawaiian and New Zealand governments regarding mass gatherings, border and travel restrictions and other COVID-19 related issues to assess the feasibility of hosting the 2020 IRONMAN World Championship and 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. Additionally, as the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact events around the world, both world championship events have seen a majority of their respective qualifying events postponed or unable to take place in 2020, impeding the ability to produce and host truly competitive world championship events. Based on these factors and circumstances beyond our control, coupled with a mission to give athletes and communities as much preparation time as possible, it is clear the world championship events cannot proceed as planned in October and November, respectively.
Similar to 1982, there will be two editions of the IRONMAN World Championship in a single year (February and October) to accommodate athletes who qualify during the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
As a result of the continued impact of COVID-19, the qualifying window for the 2020 edition of the IRONMAN World Championship has been extended to provide further qualification opportunities. The most up-to-date information on overall qualification details for the IRONMAN World Championship can be found at www.ironman.com/im-world-championship.
The IRONMAN World Championship is the pinnacle of endurance sports with athletes from all over the world coming to Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i after qualifying at events on six continents. Each year more than 94,000 athletes vie for coveted slots to the IRONMAN World Championship with approximately 2,500 athletes making it to the starting line on race day. In 2019, the IRONMAN World Championship generated a total economic impact of $72 million USD per a study conducted by Markrich Research. In addition to tourism, IRONMAN and the IRONMAN Foundation have provided a total of $1.9 million USD in grant funding to the Kailua-Kona region since the inception of the IRONMAN World Championship.
“The IRONMAN World Championship has been a cornerstone in showcasing our island’s attributes to the world for decades. We fully support their decision to postpone these races, and we feel that it is the right thing to do to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our community,” said Ross Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawai`i Visitors Bureau. “It also allows supporting industries to prepare the resources necessary to maintain the high standard the event has created over the years. We look forward to welcoming them back when the time is right and will do our best to assist with the transition.”
“The County of Hawai`i supports IRONMAN’s difficult decision to postpone the October 2020 IRONMAN World Championship event to early 2021. We look forward to welcoming the athletes, their families and supporters in early February of 2021,” said Harry Kim, Honorable Mayor for Kona.
The IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship has grown in stature and popularity since its inception in 2006 and is now the culmination of over 100 events. Every year more than 200,000 athletes compete annually for a place among the world’s best with over 5,000 athletes ultimately making it to the two-day event. Based on past economic impact studies, the 2020 edition of the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship is expected to create a total impact reaching $20 million NZD for the host city and region.
Taupō District Mayor David Trewavas said the postponement was expected given the effect COVID-19 was having on New Zealand and indeed the world. “This was no doubt a difficult decision, but the most important thing is that we as a community are ready to welcome these athletes when the time is right. We are proud to be home to the iconic IRONMAN New Zealand triathlon and are ready to showcase exactly why that is to the rest of the world. Bring on 2021.”
For more information and event details for the IRONMAN World Championship, please visit www.ironman.com/im-world-championship. Further updates on the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship can be found at www.ironman.com/im703-world-championship.
IRONMAN World Championship
Since its inception in 1978 on the Island of Oahu, the IRONMAN World Championship has etched its name in history through stellar performances, inspirational participants and emotional memories. In 1981, the race moved from the tranquil shores of Waikiki to the barren lava fields of Kona on the Island of Hawai`i where it continues to take place to this day. The race now sees over 2,500 athletes embark on a 140.6-mile journey that presents the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit to earn the title of IRONMAN World Champion. The most iconic one-day sporting event in the world is the culmination of 40 global IRONMAN events with over 94,000 athletes around the world striving for one of the coveted qualifying slots.
IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship
In 2006 the inaugural IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championship was held in Clearwater, Florida becoming another test for the world’s elite triathletes. Since that auspicious beginning, the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship has grown in stature and popularity moving first to Henderson, Nevada in 2011, where athletes encountered a more challenging terrain and then to Mont-Tremblant, Quebec—its first stop on the new “global rotation” for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. The event reached European soil for the first time ever in 2015, with Zell am See, Austria, hosting an epic and memorable event. In 2016, the race moved from the mountains to the beaches of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. In 2017, the race returned to the United States, taking place in Chattanooga, Tennessee where it became a two- day event for the first time. In 2018, the event reached the African continent for the first time and was hosted in Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa. Continuing the rotation, 2019 saw the French Riviera and Nice, France play host to the ever-growing IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship event. More than 200,000 athletes participate annually in a series of qualifying races, consisting of over 100 events in locations such as Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, North America, South Africa and Switzerland. Hosting more than 5,000 athletes from around the world, participants in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship have ranged in age from 18 to 85-plus. In 2020, the event moves to Taupō, New Zealand where there is a long and storied IRONMAN history that spans 20 years before reaching the Red Rocks of St. George, Utah in the United States in 2021.