Covid-19 concerns close doors on Cape’s money-spinning events

Organisers of Cape Town’s Two Oceans marathon have decided to pull the plug on the event.

After an emergency board meeting, organisers unanimously decided to cancel all Two Oceans marathon-related events scheduled for April 8 to 11.

It is one of eight big sporting and social events that collectively bring in more than R3-billion to the city’s economy.

Race director Debra Barnes said, in a statement: “The health and safety of the competitors, staff, sponsors and the global community are paramount and an event of this scale poses far too great a risk to continue. Guided by this priority and global best practice, the TOM NPC [Two Oceans Marathon Non Profit Company] has made the difficult decision to cancel the world’s most beautiful ultramarathon for 2020.” 

This is the latest of several Western Cape events that have been cancelled in recent days. 

Organisers of the 2020 Cape Epic mountain bike race said the decision to cancel the event was taken because of concern about the health and safety of riders.

“Following recent advice received from the Western Cape government, we have no choice but to cancel the 2020 Absa Cape Epic due to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Mediclinic, the event’s medical partner since inception and which provides services to many Western Cape events, supports the decision. The decision also has the full support of most of our sponsors, including our headline sponsor, Absa,” organisers said in a statement on the event’s website.

The bike race was due to start on Sunday March 15 on Table Mountain and end a week later March 22 in Paarl after travelling through Ceres, Tulbagh and Wellington.

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival also said at the weekend that it would be “postponing the event for 2020.”

“The Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF), takes seriously the health and safety of its patrons, performing artists, services providers, its employees and the public at large. Due to the scale of the event, which draws over 40 000 attendees, it is in the public’s best interest to postpone the 2020 event to support efforts to curb the spread of the virus,” festival organisers said.

This also means that the festival’s annual free community concert, which is attended by 13 000 Capetonians will also not take place. 

“It is in the public’s best interest to postpone this event too,” the CTIJF statement reads. 

Another cancelled event is the Afrika Burn arts and music festival held in the Tankwa Karoo.

“With the principle of civic responsibility in mind, and as a precautionary measure in light of the unfolding coronavirus situation, and in consultation with the relevant authorities, we’ve had to make the tough decision that the best course of action would be to hold off on our 2020 event,” Afrika Burn organisers said in a statement to festival-goers. 

Economic effects

The Cape Town municipality is undoubtedly worried about what the cancellation of events could mean for the local economy. 

According to mayoral committee member for tourism James Vos, eight of the city’s biggest sporting and social events — including the Two Oceans marathon and the jazz festival — collectively bring in more than R3-billion to the city’s economy

But in a joint statement with Vos, the head of Cape Town Tourism, Enver Duminy, stressed that the city remains open for business. 

“As a responsive government, the focus is currently on prevention and we are keeping up to date with all developments related to Covid-19 … We are comforted by the fact that our tourism sector has proven to be resilient and that it can and will bounce back from the impact of this global pandemic,” the statement reads. 

Vos and Duminy said the City has been resilient when encountering threats to local tourism in the past. 

“As it stands, Cape Town is open for tourism. We will be advised by the relevant health authorities on a case to case basis … We urge all visitors to follow the guidelines provided by both national and provincial health in dealing with hygiene matters. We also ask all citizens to take care of each other and be mindful of their own actions. We are all working together to get through this,” said the statement. 

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Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit is a Reporter, Journalist, and Broadcaster.

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