Bermuda bids for triathlon world final
A major sports event which will bring thousands of visitors to the island could be a reality within two years.
In the Senate yesterday it was revealed that Bermuda was bidding to host the 2020 International Triathlon Union World Grand Final — an event which Bermuda's Flora Duffy won in Cozumel, Mexico in September to become world champion.
Should Bermuda be successful in its bid, the island would also be guaranteed to host two World Series races in 2018 and 2019.
As many as 1,200 competitors — 150 of them elite athletes — could take part in each of the series events, while a huge field of 3,000 could race in the Grand Final, attracting as many as 10,000 visitors, including friends, family, members of the media and officials.
Bidding against two other venues — not yet officially revealed — Bermuda should know its fate before the New Year, with Ms Duffy joining a delegation which will present the island's bid before the ITU Executive Board next month.
Edmonton is known to be one of the other bidders, the Canadian city having been runner-up to Lausanne for the 2019 event.
Bermuda Tourism Authority said the impact of all three events would result in significant visitor spending on-island, should Bermuda be chosen.
“We are aggressively pursuing this opportunity because it checks a lot of important boxes for the tourism economy,” said BTA CEO Bill Hanbury. “These international triathlon events are outside of the summer months, they bring robust media exposure and this is sports — an area the BTA has made tremendous strides in over the past two years.
“Winning this bid would catapult us to the next level of sports tourism. These events are a terrific way to follow in the wake of the America's Cup.”
BTA chief product and experiences development officer Pat Phillip-Fairn said: “We're competing against prominent destinations. Three years ago Bermuda was not in such elite company — we weren't even in the conversation — but now we're serious contenders.
“It just goes to show the distance we have travelled in a relatively short amount of time. Being named a finalist for such a prestigious sports tourism event is an outstanding accomplishment for Bermuda.”
The WTS competition is an annual worldwide series of nine to ten triathlons culminating with the Grand Final.
Journalists, TV broadcasters, support crew and competition officials would drive visitation numbers significantly higher, noted the BTA.
The event is broadcast around the globe, including in the United States where NBC Sports is the broadcast partner.
Rotterdam in the Netherlands will host next year's Grand Final followed by the Gold Coast in Australia in 2018 and Lausanne in Switzerland in 2019. Previous hosts have included Auckland, London and Chicago.
Announcing the bid, Senator Michael Fahy, the Tourism Minister, said the races would be broadcast in 160 territories internationally, and that Ms Duffy's success in the series only helped Bermuda's case.
It would be “all hands on deck”, added Mr Fahy, as Bermuda prepares its bid package.
Mr Fahy is taking the lead in the Government's support of the bid, with assistance from Grant Gibbons, Minister of Economic Development, and Sylvan Richards, Minister of Social Development and Sports.
Government departments would play a pivotal role in the event's logistics including security, traffic control, health and safety, beach and railway trail access, immigration and customs.
Ms Duffy, who made a short visit to the island last month and is currently enjoying a vacation, is expected to join up with Bermuda's delegation next month.
Adding weight to the bid could be Bermudian Patty Petty, a long-time ITU technical official.
Mr Fahy said: “It certainly doesn't hurt that Bermuda is the home of Flora Duffy, the ITU World Triathlon Champion and perennial rock star of the sport. She is a wonderful ambassador for telling Bermuda's story as a perfect destination for athletes and adventure travellers.
“Because of strong leadership from the Bermuda Triathlon Association, our island has a solid reputation for managing outstanding triathlon events. The proposed courses for the triathlon will highlight Bermuda's natural beauty on both land and sea.”
Mr Richards noted: “Landing these events would be a tribute to Flora, Tyler Butterfield, Tyler Smith and all the impressive Bermudian triathletes making a name for themselves in the sport. Government is proud to be supporting this initiative and our local Bermuda athletes.”
Mr Gibbons added: “Bermuda's winning bid for the America's Cup, its stellar performance during the America's Cup World Series, plus its emergence as a premier sports and adventure playground has made us a formidable player in these discussions. As always, Bermuda is punching way above its weight on the global events stage.”