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The organisers of one of the world’s most prestigious international mountain bike stages races, the Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, have cancelled the 2021 edition. The four-day UCI-graded event, which attracts many of the world’s elite racers, was scheduled to take place in the Koue Bokkeveld region, near Cape Town, South Africa from 4-7 February 2021.
Under current South African Covid-19 lockdown restrictions and facing an uncertain near future of the dynamic situation, Dryland Event Management, the company that organises the Tankwa Trek, came to the decision on Monday 4 January 2021 after extensive consultation with local officials and the event’s primary sponsors, Momentum Medical Scheme and Biogen.
After more than three months at a less restrictive Level 1, South Africa has been placed back into a Level 3 Lockdown in its quest to gain control over the Covid-19 pandemic that’s put the country’s health support systems under severe strain. This is currently in place until 15 January 2021, but there is no guarantee that it won’t be extended as official case numbers and hospitalisation numbers continue to rise. By 4 January, there had been a recorded total of 1.1 million cases with 30 011 deaths, according to official statistics.
Under Level 3 restrictions, no organised gatherings, including sports events, may take place. The 2021 Tankwa Trek had reached its entry limit and Dryland had put in place all appropriate Covid-19 protocols for the event, based on Cycling South Africa’s guidelines.
“We have been in contact with the local authorities in the Witzenberg and Breede Valley regions. Unfortunately, the local hospitals are under severe strain. Even if the lockdown level is dialled back down to 1 in time for the first week of February, it would mean us having to send any seriously injured riders from the event to hospitals in the Cape Town area,” said Henco Rademeyer, Managing Director of Dryland Event Management.
The area is also key fruit producing region of South Africa. The harvesting of the fruit will reach its peak over the next three months and any kind of spike in Covid-19 cases could place not only this industry, but the lives and livelihoods of many local residents at risk.
“Having a few hundred mountain bikers arrive for Tankwa Trek in a month’s time could well lead to the inadvertent transmission of the virus to the region. It really would be irresponsible of us to try and push ahead with the event on the planned 2021 dates,” added Rademeyer.
“While most of us are returning from a bit of a holiday break, we’ve been reminded of how important it is to spend our time making memories. Taking part in an event, while doing what you love, along with like-minded people, is an essential part of staying healthy, both mentally and physically.
“We share the frustration of not knowing what the future will bring, but we also know the importance and power of positivity.
“The financial impact is real, for us as organisers as well as everyone entering and taking part in our events. We want to help this industry to stay alive and encourage people to trust us with their entries while keeping the financial risks as low as possible for everyone. Entrants of the 2021 Tankwa Trek will have five options, which will be communicated to them directly by Wednesday 6 January 2021,” added Rademeyer.
“While sports events are important and offer a valuable objective for many South Africans who are committed to the pursuit of health and fitness, the Covid-19 pandemic has reached a critical point and we undoubtedly must recognise and support that. We agree with and support Dryland Event Management and Biogen that the best and most responsible option for all is to cancel the 2021 Tankwa Trek,” said Carel Bosman, Momentum Medical Scheme’s Lead Sponsorships and Events.
“The health and safety of all South Africans is the primary focus during the Covid-19 pandemic. With the high numbers of Covid-19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths at present, it is the right and only decision to cancel the 2021 Tankwa Trek. We feel for the riders, but believe they will understand the position and take advantage of the generous options they will be offered by Dryland Event Management,” said Brandon Fairweather, General Manager Biogen.
The 2022 Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, will take place from 3-6 February. More information about the event can be found at https://tankwatrek.co.za
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