One of Bendigo's most iconic sporting events won't be staged in 2021.
The Bendigo International Madison Carnival committee made the tough decision on Monday night to cancel this year's carnival because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The March long weekend cycling and athletics carnival attracts thousands of people to Bendigo and this year would have been the 50th running of the popular event.
"In the current uncertain COVID climate we are unable to guarantee that we can deliver the standard of event that we are accustomed to,'' the BIM committee said in a statement.
"Public safety, sponsor and patron satisfaction have all contributed to our decision. The ability to run this event with high quality athletes cannot be guaranteed in 2021 and we do not wish to run at a lower standard than our supporters expect and enjoy.
"It is with regret that we have had to go down this path. but we are sure that our supporters will fully understand our decision for this year."
BIM secretary Rik McCaig said the committee had agonised over the decision to cancel the 2021 carnival.
"There were just a few too many obstacles for us to jump through,'' McCaig said.
"We were classified as a tier one or tier two event which would have carried a lot of restrictions and responsibilities and we just couldn't do it.
"The feature of our carnival is to have world-class riders from all over the globe and we just couldn't do that this year.
"We had a lot planned to celebrate our 50th running and we'll hold that over for next year.
"Up until two weeks before Christmas we were confident we'd be able to have a carnival and we had a number of program scenarios in place.
"The couple of (COVID-19) outbreaks over the Christmas period and the assessment of our event from the Department of Health made it far too big a task for a volunteer group to put it together in a safe environment in these pandemic times.
"The whole event is about the crowd and the atmosphere it creates.
"It's a community event and, without the community there to support the event, the essence of the event is tarnished."
It will be the first time since 2010 the Bendigo International Madison hasn't been raced.
That year the race was cancelled after Bendigo received 59mm of rain in 48 hours.
"It's disappointing to lose the Madison because this year we already had Cameron Meyer and Leigh Howard locked in up against Sam Welsford and Kel O'Brien,'' McCaig said.
"They're probably the two best teams we've seen in 20 years and they would have raced against each other which would have been a great race.
"I think we've made the right decision, but it's still agonising in doing so."
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