Belinda Granger cannot understand the reasoning for the council events cap which has killed off this year's Noosa tri.
Belinda Granger cannot understand the reasoning for the council events cap which has killed off this year's Noosa tri.

Noosa Tri block a ‘kick in the guts’ for business

Elite triathlete Belinda Granger says a lockout on crowds of more than 500 people is “a kick in the guts” ahead of one of the town’s most renowned events.

She said Noosa Council’s refusal to allow the Noosa Triathlon to go ahead in viable numbers would hurt tourist operators and competitors in the much-loved event.

The unanimous councillor decision on Monday to restrict any Noosa events to less than 500 because of the COVID-19 health risk has forced organisers Ironman to pull the pin on the town’s biggest attraction.

“I think they’ve made the wrong decision,” Ms Granger said of council.

“I just don’t understand why they’ve deemed it high risk.”

She said Ironman had vast experience and its were staff were meticulous organisers.

She also noted Sunshine Coast Council and the State Government had sanctioned the Ironman 70.3 in Mooloolaba for September 13.

“They’ve got the protocols in place to run a safe and low risk event for the good of the community,” Ms Granger said.

“Athletes are fit healthy, they don’t go crazy, they’re up here to have a really good weekend with their family.

Always looking to go the distance is Noosa’s Belinda Granger.
Always looking to go the distance is Noosa’s Belinda Granger.

“They’re going to race, they’re going to have coffee, they’re going to go out for dinner, they’re not going out at night to get drunk and carry on like idiots.”

Ms Granger said athletes should be in the same risk category as the thousands of weekend day-trippers who visited Noosa to help lift the economy.

“If we were to open to New South Wales and we had a situation where athletes were coming from out of state I get it, but we’re not … it’s a controlled environment,” she said.

“I have a lot of friends who own cafes and manage accommodation, and they all emailed me or messaged last night saying ‘oh well, that weekend which was full is about to become empty’.

“It’s so much more than just a race itself, people have been going through such a horrid time, it was that one bit of normality they need just to carry them through and they’ve taken that away from them.”

She said the businesses loved their biggest weekend on the Noosa events calendar.

“It’s a kick in a guts because it was something they were looking forward to not just because of financial reasons, it’s the vibe,” she said.

“I work (commentating) at events all around the world and Noosa Tri is one event that I would work for free because I love it that much.”

Ms Granger said the council should have sent observers down to the Mooloolaba event to make an informed assessment of the safety measures in place before deciding to drastically wind back event numbers.

Meanwhile, tourist operators are appealing for their small army of fanatical Noosa Triathlon regulars not to bail out on their annual sporting holiday.

Tourism Noosa has scrambled quickly in the wake of the official cancellation of this year’s event that normally hosts about 8000 competitors.

The organisation is calling on entrants with bookings to stick with their planned stays.

Noosa Council has Belinda Granger wondering why they've deemed the Noosa tri high risk.
Noosa Council has Belinda Granger wondering why they've deemed the Noosa tri high risk.

“The aim is to retain the engagement of Ironman’s loyal followers and add value to everyone who is visiting Noosa on the weekend of 30 October – 1 November,” Tourism Noosa CEO Melanie Anderson said.

“We appreciate this has been a difficult time for all decision makers involved and we hope to support the industry with an added level of visitor experience on this important local tourism date.

“Over the next few weeks, we’ll send out the details about the riding and running tracks and dining experiences for visitors to learn more about.

“We will also promote this as a key marketing message to the drive market.”

The council vote has gone against strong business lobbying to host an event of 3500 competitors under an approved COVID Safe plan.

The Noosa Chamber of Commerce is also unimpressed with the council’s decision

“Unfortunately despite intense lobbying over the weekend, councillors all voted to supersede the authority of the Chief Health Officer of Queensland without any epidemiology experience,” the chamber posted on Facebook.

Triathlon organiser Ironman said as a result of the council decision they would be contacting entrants to advise them of the cancellation.

“We share in the disappointment of this news as we love producing Noosa Triathlon for you as much as you love racing in it,” the Ironman Facebook site said.


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