Edmonton Triathlon done for 2020 with more losses expected for summer sports schedule

Ashleigh Gentle of Australia is followed by Verena Steinhauser of Italy during the Elite Mixed Relay race at the ITU World Triathlon Series in Edmonton on Sunday, July 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Edmonton’s annual World Triathlon event has been cancelled for 2020, as teams and event organizers around the city are bracing for a bleak summer because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“We took a real reality check about three weeks ago and realized that this was not a path we were going to be able to pursue, having an event of that size in August,” said Stephen Bourdeau, general manager of World Triathlon Edmonton.

READ MORE: Coronavirus forces Edmonton-area festivals to cancel 2020 events

Edmonton has been a stop on the ITU World Triathlon circuit since 1999, only missing out on three years from 2008-2010. The Grand Final was to be held at Hawrelak Park from Aug. 17-23.

“We were the last man standing. Our event was the last one on the calendar still. Now the whole season has been cancelled,” explained Bourdeau. “Some events are hoping to reschedule into the fall, those in the Southern Hemisphere, climates where they could look into an October or November event.”

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READ MORE: Mass gathering restriction will remain in Alberta for summer: Hinshaw

Bourdeau said the triathlon would have brought over 8,000 athletes and visitors to Edmonton. Over the four days of competition, Bourdeau said up to 100,000 fans would have have lined the course.

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On Thursday, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw clarified that mass gathering restrictions apply to all summer events and festivals. On Friday, the city of Calgary cancelled all public events through August 31.

READ MORE: Mass gathering restriction will remain in Alberta for summer: Hinshaw

It’s expected more sports cancellations will be announced in the days to come. The Western Canadian Baseball League has a meeting on Wednesday. It’s likely the 2020 season will be called off. The WCBL has Alberta-based teams in Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Brooks and Okotoks.

The Prairie Football Conference is looking at options for a delayed or shortened season. Instead of its planned mid-August start, the league could start up in the fall, with each team playing four of six games instead of eight.

READ MORE: Playoffs could go into fall if NHL can finish season: officials

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The PFC’s Edmonton Huskies and Edmonton Wildcats could take a big financial hit if the CFL season is shortened or cancelled. Each team received around $255,000 in 50/50 money from the Eskimos in 2019.

An announcement on the future of the Edmonton Marathon, currently slated for Aug. 15-16, is expected next week.

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