WHAT would have been the 50th running of the Bendigo International Madison cycling and athletics carnival has again been put on hold.
For the second year in a row one of the Bendigo's most popular sporting events has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Carnival organisers announced the cancellation of the Madison in March on Tuesday, citing the ongoing challenges around COVID uncertainty for the decision.
"There's still a lot of uncertainty going forward and we had to make a decision this week before we started paying for fireworks, catering and so forth," carnival secretary Rik McCaig said.
"So after weeks of discussion we've made the decision that, unfortunately, it's best for us not to run the carnival this year.
"While we don't have any restrictions on us in terms of it being an outdoor event, people aren't going to events like they normally would, and also one of the biggest problems for us was getting access to riders and then guaranteeing that when those riders arrived here they didn't have COVID.
"We saw at the Tasmanian Christmas carnival and national road titles that there were riders who had to miss out due to being affected by COVID and we're under different circumstances in terms of having a teams event. So the challenges were adding up and we had to make a decision for the sustainability of the carnival into the future."
The challenges were adding up and we had to make a decision for the sustainability of the carnival into the future- Rik McCaig
The 2022 Bendigo International Madison was due to be held on the weekend of March 12-13 at the Tom Flood Sports Centre.
"It's extremely disappointing being the second time we've had to postpone what was to be our 50th year celebration," McCaig said.
"We'd put in an enormous amount of work for this year with all the changes in terms of our COVID compliance to ensure we'd deliver a safe event.
"It has been an extremely difficult decision to make, but we believe it's the right one.
"We've had lots of discussions about it and gone through all types of scenarios and different programming, but with the uncertainty around, we've had to make a call."
The carnival was last held in 2020 when it fortunately narrowly avoided the first wave of restrictions that played havoc with sporting competitions and events for much of the rest of the year.
"It was a week later that we had our first restrictions, so we were lucky to hold it in 2020," McCaig said.
"Then last year it was an easy decision to make because we were under far more restrictions.
"Come November last year we were quite confident that it was looking good for this year, but with this virus things can turn quickly and there's still so much uncertainty around where we're at and where we'll be in March.
"Coming out of our meeting last night, everyone is really keen to make sure that 2023 is a great event... having had two years off it gives us the chance to reinvigorate the event and come back with some fresh ideas."
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