You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Challenge Wanaka is the latest event to be cancelled following the move to the Red light setting.
Organisers yesterday announced the popular annual triathlon festival, scheduled for February 17-19 and a major boost to the town’s economy, could not be held at Red.
"The team went through different operational scenarios and concluded that the socially responsible action to take was to cancel the event to protect the health of our athletes, tamariki, supporters, volunteers, staff and wider community," organisers said in a statement.
"As a non-for-profit, community-based organisation, we have had to make this incredibly hard decision for all involved.
"But the whole team believe it is the right decision considering the uncertainty we are all faced with and our duty of care."
By cancelling before the January 31 deadline, organisers will be able to offer competitors a 75% refund or a transfer to the following year.
"We have been working tirelessly on options on how we can continue,” race director Bill Roxburgh said.
"But we strongly believe this option is the best for our competitors and community alike, in the face of what could be a prolonged length of time in the Red light setting.
"Traditionally, we bring in athletes and families from across our nation to beautiful Lake Wanaka, and this simply does not seem like the right thing to do, considering the predictions of how this outbreak could project over the coming weeks.”
Challenge Wanaka athletes might be able to console themselves with a virtual event. More details were likely soon.
The cancellation covers the whole busy festival: the bay to bay swim, the secondary schools and junior triathlons, the twilight challenge that attracted a glittering field, the Challenge Wanaka Half and the premier triathlon.
Organisers have pencilled in February 18 for the 2023 edition of Challenge Wanaka. Entries will open on April 4.