ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) – The 2021 Intermountain Healthcare Ironman World Championship is going to look slightly different in St. George due to COVID-19 concerns.
“Where it’s a world championship, about 50% of the athletes are coming from around the globe, and they’re not able to get here based on the travel restrictions,” says Kevin Lewis, of Greater Zion Convention & Tourism.
Event coordinators say the race will now take place in just one day, rather than two and only about 3,500 athletes will compete.
“You know anywhere between 12 to 15,000 people could be in town for the event specifically,” says Lewis.
Officials say there is a possibility that proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test could be required to attend.
“At this stage, masks will be required in the indoor venues for the world championship but for outdoor venues, they won’t be required,” says Lewis.
With local hospitals short on staff and struggling with capacity due to the Delta variant, event coordinators say they are working closely with the Southwest Utah Public Health Department.
“This is a one-day thing where a lot of people are coming in, and going back out we’ll notice if there are any outbreaks relating to that but so far we really haven’t had a history of any of our large events whether it’s been races or social entertainment events, leading to any super spreader events,” says David Heaton of the Southwest Utah Public Health Department.
Lewis says coordinators plan to take precautions seriously, as they also expect to host the 2022 World Championship in St. George again, rather than New Zealand.
“And that’s helpful to the area, to bring in the economic impact, the notoriety and the exposure that these kinds of things bring in, and just to bring in the quality of life and energy that comes from hosting events like this,” says Lewis.