A record 47,000 people streamed through the gates to watch Crankworx Rotorua live last year but when the competition kicks off next week the tracks will be devoid of spectators.
Event organisers announced via a Facebook post today the only way to watch Crankworx would be online.
"It is with heavy hearts that we announce there will be no spectators on-site for Crankworx Rotorua 2021," it said.
"This has not been an easy decision, but one we feel is necessary to reduce the risk to our riders, team, and community."
Crankworx event organiser Ariki Tibble said the decision was a tough one.
"It's not a nice feeling," Tibble told the Rotorua Daily Post.
Tibble said he and his team had left "no stone unturned" because local community participation was a priority for Crankworx.
"We waited until we had as much information as possible and we explored every single opportunity."
Tibble said Crankworx did get permission to have a limited number of spectators and had been working with the Ministry of Health and WorkSafe to set up "robust" Covid-19 protocols.
"But when we sat back and asked ourselves whether we should [have spectators] this [announcement] just seemed like the right thing to do.
"We're just trying to operate as safely as we possibly can. At this point, anywhere people are gathering is an opportunity for Covid-19 to take hold."
Mountain Bike Rotorua co-owner Tak Mutu said all tickets were in the process of being refunded.
"Because the event was changing we had already been working to a reduced capacity. We had also changed the price of the tickets to reflect what the experience would be."
When asked what Crankworx would be like without an audience, Mutu said he had "no idea".
"You never know until you get there."
Mutu said the Crankworx World Tour team had experience with spectator-free events and so did many of the mountain bikers.
"Crankworx Canada was broadcast-only. So we've got good support from the people who have been through it."
Crankworx Rotorua still intends to reach an international online audience of millions through Red Bull TV. The events will also be broadcast in New Zealand on Spark TV.
Tibble said Crankworx organisers were determined to deliver the highest-quality competition for viewers.
"There will still be a world-class broadcast and anyone who joins in is going to get a taste of the best riders in the world.
"If you follow us on social media you'll [have] some behind the scenes too."
Tibble encouraged Crankworx's online audience would see many "plugs" for Rotorua.
"We'll remind the world that Rotorua is a great place to be."