The iconic Coolangatta Gold has become the latest major sporting event to fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic.
Surf Life Saving Australia today confirmed the 2020 endurance race has officially been cancelled due to ongoing border restrictions.
In a statement, Surf Life Saving Australia CEO Adam Weir said it was a “difficult decision to cancel the remaining elite category” but revealed they had no other choice.
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“We are deeply disappointed to be forced to cancel the elite category of the traditional Coolangatta Gold, as it has become a hallmark event on our surf sports calendar,” he said.
“Our team of volunteers and staff have been working tirelessly to review a variety of scenarios, develop COVID Safe plans and look at ways in which we could still run the elite category of the Coolangatta Gold. But we have reached the point today where we unfortunately have had to cancel the real event.
“After working through a range of options with Queensland Health it became very apparent that there is no way for any of our athletes, officials and volunteers outside of Queensland to get to the Gold Coast without having to self-isolate for 14 days prior to the event being held, which is not feasible for many.
“We know that people have been preparing and training for these events through winter and we wanted to give our athletes every opportunity to participate, but the time has come where we needed to provide clear certainty taking into consideration what is in the best interests of the entire community.”
However it’s not all bad news, with the iconic Coolangatta Gold race still going ahead – this time in a virtual capacity.
“A race known for pushing barriers is going for a new first with a digital experience designed to connect the toughest athletes from across the globe,” SLSA said.
“The 41.8km iron race is known for its toughness and in 2020 it will call on competitors, elite and the everyday, to push their own limits, keep active and take part in the free Coolangatta Gold Challenge.”
The Coolangatta Gold is going virtual!
After making the difficult decision today to cancel the elite category, we are excited to announce a brand-new way to take on the ‘Gold.
The #VGC20 is Your Gold, Your Way, Your Challenge.
— Surf Life Saving Australia (@SLSAustralia) August 28, 2020
The virtual event is open to all SLSA members and the general public and will be held over a 10-day period from October 16-25.
Mr Weir said that while it’s disappointing athletes won’t be able to experience the best of the Gold Coast as part of the Coolangatta Gold, the virtual event aims to connect competitors from across the country, and potentially other parts of the world.
“The Coolangatta Gold can now be easily experienced by participants the world over. We want participants from all disciplines to take up the virtual challenge and during these challenging times, stay active and stay connected,” he said.
“The virtual event will be designed to suit all competitors regardless of location or circumstance and can be completed as one or multiple race legs, as a team or an individual.”
To register or for further information, click here.