KAILUA-KONA >> The annual Ironman World Championship in Hawaii has been canceled for the first time in its 43-year history.
The competition is considered one of the most important Ironman triathlon events. Participants swim 2.4 miles (3.9 kilometers), ride bikes for 112 miles (180.3 kilometers) and then run a marathon, which goes for 26.2 miles (42.2 kilometers).
The 2020 competition was initially postponed from Oct. 10 to Feb. 6, 2021. But organizers decided Tuesday to cancel it because of continuing coronavirus concerns and the risks of international travel, West Hawaii Today reported.
The Tribune-Herald reported that a study found that 2019’s World Championship event generated an estimated total economic impact of $72 million for the state. The Big Island hosted about 2,500 athletes from 75 different countries.
“The coronavirus strikes again at the heart of Kona,” Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce economic development committee chair Ross Wilson told The Tribune-Herald.
Wilson added: “While the reasons for canceling are understandable, how can Kona not be disappointed? It reminds me of an old friend or a family member that delays a trip to visit but you know they’re coming next year.”
The 2020 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Taupo, New Zealand was also canceled for similar reasons.