PaddleNSW Covid19 : Events Suspended

I am writing to advise you that all PNSW Marathon & Harbour Series events are suspended until 31 May 2020.

This means that the following events will not be proceeding:

  • 21/3/20 State Single Marathon Championships at Windsor
  • 5/4/20 State Double Marathon Championships at Lane Cove
  • 3/5/20 Marathon Series Race at Narrabeen
  • 17/5/20 Marathon Series Race at Tacoma
  • 31/5/20 Marathon Series Race at Davistown
  • 9/5/20 Harbour Series Race at Dolls Point (Dolls Pt Classic)
  • 24/5/20 Harbour Series Race at Drummoyne (Iron Cockatoo)

As a community sporting organisation, we have a responsibility to play our role in limiting the spread and impact of COVID19.

The short explanation is that, as much as we love it, paddling in organised events is not a necessity of life. Therefore, stopping these events is a relatively easy way to reduce the risk of community transmission and the potential consequences for members of our paddling community.

The longer explanation, for those who wish to understand more of the rationale for this decision, is that a number of factors have guided us to making this decision. While none of these would individually stop our events – when viewed in aggregate, they present a risk that we think is unnecessary and therefore unacceptable.

Latest Government Advice

The advice from the Australian Government (as at noon on 18/3/20) includes some factors that are relevant to us:

– Government has banned indoor events of 100 people of more and outdoor events of 500 or more. While most of our events are not directly captured, these limits have tightened considerably over recent days and we have seen even tighter limits imposed overseas. This demonstrates that unnecessary gatherings are one of the key risks and it is responsible to do our bit to reduce them – regardless of whether or not further tightening of these restrictions might eventually force such a decision upon us.

– the health risks from COVID19 are considerably higher for people over the age of 60.

– limiting unnecessary travel can reduce the rate of spread.

– Government has said that response measures should be ’sustainable’ and be able to be maintained for six (6) months. This indicates that we should take a slightly longer term perspective rather than making a series of incremental decisions week-by-week.

With that extended timeline in mind, we have decided to make a decision that covers the next two months, and we will review circumstances for the period beyond that. Where possible, we will look to make our decisions well-in-advance rather than having to make a series of shorter term decisions.

Protecting Our Volunteers and Supporters

Our events rely on volunteers. While we can reduce the number of volunteers we need, we cannot remove them altogether. Continuing with events means we are asking volunteers, and supporters such as first aid officers and coffee vendors, to expose themselves to an unnecessary risk (regardless of our views of the level of that risk).

The fact that many of our volunteers are over the age of 60 also means that many of our volunteers fall within the government’s definition of more-vulnerable groups. This means they are at much higher risk of much more severe health impacts if they contract COVID19.

Demographics of Our Sport

As with our Volunteers, many of our Paddlers are also over the age of 60.

While this is a wonderful reflection of our sport as an inclusive and life-long activity, the health consequences of COVID19 are much more severe for older people.

Our overall assessment includes both the likelihood of exposure to COVID19 and the consequence. We know the consequences are higher for older people. We can reduce the likelihood of exposure by stopping our events.

The Geographic Distribution of Our Events and Participants

Our events are distributed around the state and our paddlers come from around the state. This means that we could be responsible for bringing the virus into an area and any virus transmission at one of our events could have a heavily-multiplied effect on spread through our community.

The aggregate of all of these factors makes the overall risk too high to justify for a non-essential activity.

We know this decision will be a disappointment to many paddlers, clubs and volunteers. We share that disappointment.

Over the next few weeks, we will work with the affected clubs to assess alternative arrangements. This might mean making further changes to event calendars for the period June-December 2020. We will share that information as early as we can.

Finally, we ask that you accept this decision with the good sporting attitude that we all bring to our sport. We know that our sport will recover quickly. We look forward to seeing you all back on water as soon as we all get through this.

Peter Tate

CEO – PaddleNSW Inc