By Carmina Blewett
Amateur Auckland triathletes are unable to compete in Challenge Wanaka this year.
Organisers are pleased the triathlon festival is going ahead despite fluctuating Covid alert levels.
However, Level 2 restrictions prevent non-professional athletes travelling from Auckland to sporting events of 100 or more people.
Challenge Wanaka Triathlon media manager Sophie Luther said while the news is disappointing for some, it is important the festival plays by the rules.
“The guidelines are the guidelines from the government and we’re just going along with what we’ve been told and basically being socially responsible.”
Sport New Zealand guidelines state that under level 2 Covid restrictions amateur sportspeople can only attend events of up to 100 people, but those at the professional level are exempt from the restrictions.
“For elite, professional and semi-professional sport, players are considered employees in a workplace and are not subject to gathering rules,” an official Sport New Zealand document says.
Luther said the majority support the decision, but many participants need the opportunity to compete.
“The professional triathletes should actually be able to do their job, and at this time they can’t travel overseas and they need to get their prize money.
“It is a good thing they can come and race, but obviously it’s really disappointing for a person who’s been training for the last year to come to Challenge Wanaka – and they can’t come – so we understand it’s a gutting feeling,” Luther said.
The triathlon’s Facebook update regarding Auckland-based participants has since received comments.
“So elite sports people are immune from covid [sic ]?” one user said.
“People support Challenge as it’s generally more community oriented but only offering a 50% refund or referral screams CASH,” another social media user said.
Luther said those now unable to participate can have their registration forwarded to next year’s event, or alternatively access a partial refund.
“We’re a trust and not a business, so we’ve had a lot of expenditure and cashflow gone out, so we actually can only afford the 50 percent; we tried to work out if we could do the 100 but we can’t as a trust.”