PORT Macquarie-Hastings mayor Peta Pinson is pushing for a discussion to, once again, change the date of the 2021 Ironman Australia and 70.3 event.
Cr Pinson will put the recommendation to an extra ordinary meeting of council on Monday, May 3 on the basis the race, which attracts thousands of athletes and their supporters to the region, will clash with a number of other major events on the weekend of September 4-5.
Those events include the local government elections, where ratepayers will go to the polls to vote in a new council and mayor for the next four-year term; Father's Day celebrations and finals weekends for major sporting codes including rugby league and football.
Cr Pinson will request that council's CEO, Dr Clare Allen, approach Ironman organisers and negotiate an alternative and more suitable date for the race.
Ironman Australia organisers said to change the date for a third time is not "fair" on athletes or accommodation providers who benefit from the $10 million annual event.
It will be the second time the event organisers have been forced to look at alternative dates, with the 2021 event postponed from May 2 after floods ripped through the Hastings region in March leaving behind a trail of damage and unsuitable, and unsafe, river and road conditions for athletes.
Ironman Australia regional director Chris Jervis said after the floods, the tipping point to move the event to September 4-5 was based on what was in the best interests of the community.
Mr Jervis and Ironman Oceania managing director Dave Beeche worked with council, Destination NSW and the Local Organising Committee at the beginning of April where they agreed to push the race back to September.
The mayor's request will undoubtedly challenge organisers who were forced to reschedule, and ultimately postpone, the race in 2020 under the cloud of COVID health restrictions and bans on international travel.
As a result, council successfully negotiated a one year extension to its 2019-2021 tripartite hosting agreement to 2022.
News of this desire to look at alternative dates is disappointing, but we're committed to working with council to build confidence around the current date, and will be a part of Monday's meeting.Ironman Australia
"The Ironman Australia team worked closely with council and other local stakeholders on the decision to postpone the original event date due to the ongoing effects of the recent floods, with the new date of Sunday 5 September approved by council prior to announcing it," an Ironman spokesperson said.
"News of this desire to look at alternative dates is disappointing, but we're committed to working with council to build confidence around the current date, and will be a part of Monday's meeting.
"Unfortunately if another suitable date cannot be found, and 5 September isn't approved, there is a real risk that the event may have to be cancelled, jeopardising the $10 million a year that Ironman Australia injects into the region.
"We know that Father's Day is an important day for so many and are committed to working with all parties to make the weekend of 4-5 September successful for the community.
"Due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19, and then the recent floods, this event has already been moved three times, which has put a lot of stress on accommodation providers and athletes, we don't believe it would be fair on anyone to have to make significant changes to plans again.
"Our athletes love this event we look forward to welcoming more than 3,000 competitors and their families and friends to the region this year for what will be the 35th anniversary of Ironman Australia, and continuing our great relationship with the local community."
Ironman Australia and 70.3 was last contested in Port Macquarie in 2019.
The race, which is the nation's longest running Ironman race and incorporates the Oceania TriClub Championships, was a sell out.
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