THE COVID-19 cloud continues to hover over the Port Macquarie-Hastings region ahead of Ironman Australia's rescheduled event date of September 13.
Ironman Oceania senior vice-president and managing director David Beeche admitted crunch time was fast approaching for them to make a decision on whether the postponed date would still go ahead.
"We're coming up to that point very soon," Mr Beeche said.
"I would say in no later than two weeks we're going to have to make a call. We're working closely with council and state government on forming a COVID-safe plan to make everyone comfortable we can operate the event safely."
It comes as Victoria continues to suffer a spike in infections.
"Our ambition is certainly to deliver the event if we can; a lot of athletes have signalled to us they're ready to race again and want to get back to events," he said.
But the decision would also be dependent on having the endorsement of any community where races were being held.
"We certainly wouldn't want to try and force anything on a community that wasn't ready to welcome visitors," he said.
Should the events proceed, it will still be at a financial cost although Mr Beeche was hopeful it would also result in a stronger local contingent.
"The reason there will still be a cost even if we're back delivering events is we're expecting a lot lower numbers at our events than we would ordinarily have," he said.
"International people won't be able to travel to events which makes up a chunk of our business.
"Anywhere from five percent to 50 percent of our entrant's are international and then there are other factors that go into viability with interstate travel and if that's possible.
"Then there is the cost of rolling out some of the safety measures we want to put in place around creating a covid-safe event."
However, Mr Beeche remained confident they would still be able to hold most events.
"The signals the federal government have sent have been positive for us," he said.
"Not having a cap on the number of people at a mass gathering as long as you are able to socially distance with one person per four squares is an environment where we think we can safely deliver most of our events."
The unprecedented restrictions put in place to fight the pandemic has meant that Ironman Australia is one of 8500 mass participation sporting events that have been cancelled or postponed.
It has potentially jeopardised the $1.1 billion that these events pump into the Australian economy each year.
More than 250 organisations involved in the industry have now joined forces to create the Australian Mass Participation Sporting Event Alliance (AMPSEA) who will work with all levels of government to support the industry to survive the crisis.
Mr Beeche said it was a result of conversations he had with managing director of Spartan Australia and New Zealand Chris Heverin.
They felt professional sport and community sports people were being looked after, while those in the middle were being left out in the cold.
"There are 3.4 million people who take part in fun runs, triathlons and cycling events that we felt weren't on the radar with government and needed a voice," he said.
"That was the rationale behind bringing this group together because the sector's a big one that employs over 11,000 people."
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