Queenie Grootboom
Vinny Nogemane
Queenie Grootboom
Vinny Nogemane

Residents start petition to have Ironman African Championship in PE postponed

Hundreds of residents in Nelson Mandela Bay have signed a petition calling for the postponement of the 2020 edition of the Ironman African Championship.

The petition was started on Thursday by a resident, Jacqueline Kroon, shortly after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the Coronavirus a Global Pandemic.

By mid-afternoon the petition had garnered more than 500 signatures.

It is directed at the Health Department, the Government and Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and comes ahead of the event scheduled for 29 March.

The Ironman Group said in a statement on Monday that it was aware of the evolving situation related to the coronavirus but that the event will be going ahead as planned.

Asked to comment on the petition, Ironman said in a statement to Algoa FM News that "the health and well-being of their athletes, volunteers, partners, staff and host communities is their primary concern."

"As with every edition of the IRONMAN African Championship, the team has been hard at work developing and refining its operational plans with local authorities and agencies over the past year, including relevant safety measures and protocols which has been heightened over the last few weeks."

"We are working closely with city officials who are in turn in communication with national government and relevant government departments," the statement said.

The statement said while the IRONMAN African Championship implements a comprehensive safety plan for the event each year, "we have further built on these measures based on the recommendations and guidelines of the World Health Organization".

"We remain in close communication with local authorities, as well as our event medical, safety and security service providers to have measures in place to mitigate risk.
This includes implementation of additional onsite event safety and precautionary measures, as well as education and guidelines for event staff and volunteers at race venue locations to follow."

In an earlier statement, Ironman said that a number of overseas athletes who are unable to get to Nelson Mandela Bay because of coronavirus-enforced travel restrictions have already been refunded their entry fee.

Kroon, who started the online petition, said it was highly irresponsible to allow foreign athletes into the city of Port Elizabeth.

Some argued that most sporting events across the globe were being cancelled and questioned why the upcoming Ironman event cannot follow suit.

Several listeners have also stated that they have made contact with their local councillors to raise their concerns, whilst others called for a boycott.

Here are some of the comments shared on the Algoa FM News Facebook Page: