With Covid-19, the hits just keep on coming and the latest one arrived last week when Ironman announced it was postponing the Taupō edition of the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.
A new date is yet to be announced, but Ironman Group has said it is committed to bringing the event to the Taupō district at some point in the future.
The event was set to pump $27 million into the local economy and showcase the town to qualifying athletes all around the globe.
But Taupō District Mayor David Trewavas said he was confident the region would take the news in its stride.
While set down for 2020, the continued global impact of Covid-19 has had significant effects on international events. With the move of this year's Ironman 70.3 World Championship in St George, the United States, to next year, it has meant the Taupō 2022 event will also need to be postponed.
"I think it's important to look at it from how big an impact Covid-19 is having across the globe, particularly with the new Delta strain, and understand that having a longer lead-in time will actually allow us to host more athletes," Mr Trewavas said.
In October 2018, Taupō won the rights to host the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, beating off the other finalist, Perth, Australia, following a robust application process and a visit by Ironman Global representatives in June 2018.
Mr Trewavas said at the time that hosting the globally rotating event was a major coup because it would thrust the Taupō district onto the world stage like never before.
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"The two-day event attracts around 5000 competitors, 13,500 supporters and attracts media from all four corners of the globe," the mayor said.
"This is as big as it is ever going to get. We are talking the best of the best."
The original date was to be November 28 and 29, 2020. Following the outbreak of the global pandemic, the date was revised last year to March 2022.
The Ironman 70.3 World Championship is the single biggest event the Taupō district has ever secured, with the estimated economic return equal to two-thirds of what the district would attract in one year.
It was to be the first time the 70.3 World Championship would be held in New Zealand and only the second time in Oceania. In 2018, the event was hosted in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa, and in 2019 it was held in Nice, France.
The professional women and age-group women would race on one day and the professional men and age-group men would race the next.
In 2018, Taupō District Council committed $478,000 to the event and was successful in attracting a government investment of $975,000 from the Major Events Fund. A spokesperson for the council said both these investments were being renegotiated due to the event being postponed.
Last year 4.2km of the Great Lake Walkway footpath was upgraded to a smooth surface with an extended width of 2.8m at a cost of $4.2 million. Upgrading the footpath was already in Taupō District Council's long-term plan, but winning the hosting rights for the 2020 Ironman 70.3 World Championship pulled the project forward 10 years.
In 2018, district events manager Steve Giles said operationally the council was confident the community not only had what it took to host an event of that size, but it would be one to remember for the estimated 20,000 or so international and domestic visitors it would attract, as well as probably tens of thousands of spectators.
"In Ironman circles, this is equivalent to the Rugby World Cup or America's Cup so we have the opportunity to deliver something really special," he said.
Geoff Meyer, Oceania managing director for The Ironman Group, said while the news was disappointing, the organisation remained committed to bringing the Ironman 70.3 World Championship to Taupō.
"Taupō, and New Zealand in general, has always been a special destination for Ironman and while it's very disappointing that we won't be able to hold the Ironman 70.3 World Championship next year as planned, we look forward to working with all stakeholders to secure a date for a future edition of the event," said Mr Meyer.
"The current uncertainties related to border and travel restrictions are continuing to have a significant impact on major events such as the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, but we remain committed to showcasing the beautiful Lake Taupō and surrounds in future years."
Mayor Trewavas said the council was working closely with stakeholders and Ironman to come up with a new date as quickly as possible.