Sydney, Dec 20 (IANS) Australia’s iconic yacht race, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, has been canceled, the first time in its 76 years of history, due to concern about a Covid-19 cluster that recently occurred in Sydney.
The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) announced the decision with “great regret” on Saturday night, just six days from the start of the race.
“We are bitterly disappointed to cancel the race this year especially considering the plans and preparations we had put in place to have a Covid safe race,” said CYCA Commodore Noel Cornish in a press release.
The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, also known as “The Hobart,” sees competitors racing from Sydney Harbour via the Tasman Sea’s unpredictable waters to the city of Hobart over 1,000 kilometres south. This year, the race planned to go ahead even though many international competitors could not contest due to ongoing global restrictions.
However, a Covid-19 cluster occurred in the Northern Beaches of Sydney earlier this week. As confirmed cases continued to grow, Tasmania’s government, where Hobart is located, listed Greater Sydney as a “medium risk” area, and anyone who wants to enter Tasmania from Greater Sydney needs to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
It is reported that about 150 sailors, about a third of the fleet’s crew, live in the Northern Beaches and were affected by the restrictions.
“Following the announcement by the Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein, it is now impracticable for the CYCA to conduct the Race under prevailing Covid-19 restrictions,” the press release said.
CYCA said alternative races had been carefully considered; however, as the state of New South Wales urged all residents to limit their non-essential travel and interactions with others, it was felt that there were no other options that would allow for a Covid safe replacement race.
“This race has a long and proud history, and we look forward to continuing this exciting tradition next year,” Cornish said.
According to the latest press briefing from the NSW government, up to 8 p.m. (local time) last night, 36 new Covid-19 cases have been confirmed, 30 of which were locally acquired.