Burt Munro Challenge called off amid uncertainty

The volatility of the Covid-19 situation, combined with the financial risk, have led to Burt Munro Challenge organisers cancelling next February’s event.

"We could look back in February and go ‘we should have run it’, but we could look back and go ‘we’ve lost a couple of hundred thousand dollars’," Burt Munro Challenge committee chairman Craig Hyde said yesterday afternoon.

"We’re a community group and it’s kind of what a lot of people get lost on.

"They just think it’s an entity that’s making a whole lot of money but we don’t have a whole lot of money.

"We don’t have a whole lot of money to lose."

If that happened, there would not be another Burt Munro Challenge, he said.

The decision was made at a committee meeting on Wednesday night.

A rider has plenty of room on Oreti Beach at an earlier Burt Munro Challenge. PHOTO: ODT FILES
A rider has plenty of room on Oreti Beach at an earlier Burt Munro Challenge. PHOTO: ODT FILES

The decision to cancel the event had come after much toing and froing and going through every channel, he said.

It cost about $300,000 to put on the challenge and with uncertainty about spectator numbers and vaccination rates of both onlookers and racers, the risk was too great.

"We can’t run without spectators and to be fair, if a third of our guys aren’t going to double vaccinate, we can’t run without them either.

"I don’t think we have lots of motorbike guys that won’t vaccinate, but you just don’t know before you know."

He also said the infrastructure required to check vaccination passports of all spectators was also a factor, especially for something like the street race where there were five entry points to access the event.

He did not think it would be the only large-scale event to be cancelled.

"I wouldn’t be surprised — in the next two or three weeks I think you’re going to start seeing a few more events, bigger events, fall off," he said.

Uncertainty about the traffic light Covid-19 framework had also been a consideration.

"Anything that gets put into place now could change in two weeks.

"It is so volatile."

The decision gave the committee more time to prepare for the 2023 event, he said.

"One thing that was emphasised [at the meeting] as well was nobody will be sitting on their hands.

"We still have to mop up a lot from here and move forward, but we need to keep that interest going for people as well."

He was still to talk to sponsors and key funders about the situation, he said.

Great South tourism and events general manager Bobbi Brown said the cancellation was totally understandable but would have a significant impact on the Southland economy.

"It’s a huge loss.

"We can only hope we get back to some kind of normality in the next year, and the event will return in full swing in 2023."



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