The 2020 Fish River Canoe Marathon is the latest iconic South African sporting event to be cancelled following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The race had been scheduled for 25 and 26 September.
The event has become the biggest paddling event in the country and was set to host the South African National K1 and K3 River Championships this year, but organisers have made the decision to cancel the 38th edition of the race.
‘Although South Africa is currently operating under level 3 of the lockdown regulations, there is no indication when mass participation events and functions will be able to start, or what the protocols will be,’ chairman of the organising committee Roy Copeman said.
‘We’ve also had numerous meetings and discussions with affected parties, trying to take in all the known and unknown factors to determine our way forward.
‘Given the scale and budget of the Fish, and the impact that it has on so many spheres of the Cradock community, we had to make a decision now,’ he added. ‘We strongly believe our solution is the one that benefits our paddlers the most.’
A number of other factors have hamstrung the organisers as the majority of the paddlers taking part travel into Cradock from outside of the province which adds more uncertainty to the hosting of the two-day event.
‘Cross provincial travel restrictions might potentially ease during lockdown level two but the status of ‘hotspots’ can fluctuate and prevent travelling between provinces any time during lockdown.
‘Mass participation events will only be allowed to take place under lockdown level 0 and we are unsure of the time-frame of the various levels or when level 0 will happen.
‘There is also uncertainty around when supporting businesses can operate normally, such as accommodation establishments and restaurants. This has a huge impact on our event,’ he added.
Despite the cancellation the committee is still continuing with an open mind with the option of a social Fish River Canoe Marathon still on the table later in the year.
‘If the opportunity presents itself later in the year, we will organize a “Social Fish”. The possible plan will be to start Day One at Prospect and finish at Baroda. Day Two from Knutsford to Cradock, finishing at the Cradock Canoe Club,” Copeman said.
More information can be found at www.fishmarathon.org.za