ETU President Renato Bertrandi: “DNF is not an option”
Galina Shipovalova updates us:
On May 13, representatives of 38 National federations met for a Zoom Conference call hosted by ETU President Renato Bertrandi. Along with ETU Executive Board members, the Development Committee Chair, Aldo Lucarini, we welcomed ITU’s Vice-President Ria Damgren Nilsson, Sports Director Gergely Marcus, Medical Committee Chief Sergio Migliorini, Operations Director Thanos Nikopoulos.
On the agenda for the meeting were two main points:
- 2020 End of season race calendar
- 2020 Ranking system
But running through the conference was a strong theme of how we could all support each other during this pandemic period.
We have tried, below, to draw together the most important and significant points that arose during the conference.
We want our events to stay alive
Since the first sign of the pandemic outbreak at the beginning of March, the ETU Executive Board has conducted weekly meetings with the objective of understanding and reacting to the evolving situation. One of the main topics of every meeting is the future of our events and activities.
ETU has contacted every LOC with a view to understanding what their individual options and wishes were in terms of hosting events in 2020. Some races have been cancelled, others postponed. Despite the ever-changing situation, that varies across the whole of Europe (and the World), we felt that by working closely with the LOCs, we could create a new Autumn calendar but that any planned event would be subject to the very strict guidelines imposed by each national authority. It would be up to the LOCs to confirm that the event could go ahead, based upon their own national instructions and it would be up to each individual athlete to comply with any domestic restrictions that might apply.
“I want to underline the enthusiasm and the commitment of the LOCs to go forward in spite of all the difficulties”, said Renato Bertrandi. “We have made all the decisions related to the new calendar in full agreement with the respective LOC and National Federations. On both sides we have demonstrated full flexibility. Our decisions have been driven by our concern for our athletes and ETU stands by the notion of starting event activities as soon as possible – but only if permitted by local authorities and only if athletes are permitted to enter the host country.
There was no way for us just to cancel full season despite of the fact that from some points of view it looks as an easy decision. We all were so frustrated in March and April when the situation was changing on a weekly basis and seemingly always for the worst. But first and foremost in our minds are the athletes. For them, we want to be able to offer them some opportunity to race and to earn prize-money. For them, we want to try and offer some glimmer of hope. World Triathlon has published recommendations, drawn up in conjunction with the World health Organisation, for event organisers and it is clear that the possibility exists that if an event is allowed to go ahead, it may vary in format depending on what restrictions are in place in any given country at any given time.
If, after all the hard work, we find that events cannot be held due to travel or “social-distancing” restrictions, or to wider health authority guidance, then at least we have tried to do something, rather than sitting back and doing nothing. We must do our best with what we have.”
In the early COVID-19 times ETU also launched a number of surveys for the European National Federations to get feedback on what is happening in their own nations. This data, collected on a weekly basis, has greatly helped us to understand the impact of restrictions that have been put in place in each country.
Athlete support: online activities and special funding for real Prize Money
The life-blood of any Sport is its athletes. Our European Triathletes have been showing great commitment during this period. It has been so encouraging to see on the social media, during the last two months, how they have been trying to continue with their training in their living rooms, terrace, gardens … always smiling and focused. Our European athletes are the ones most affected due to the lack of opportunity to train properly. Added to this the absence of events; the goal of training is surely to race.
Trying to “think up” new events was also something discussed during the conference call. We discussed early on how we could bring athletes together and one idea was to create a Team Time Trial. This idea has been well-developed and now we have a very well-established ETU Zwift TTT every Thursday, with a huge number of clubs from all over Europe racing against each other. If you have not already signed up to the special TriClubs online competition using the Zwift platform, we encourage you to join in the fun and compete virtually and get your online ranking.
We also doing our best to support our athletes and the focus is not just on the Elite. We aim to include all levels; Age-Group athletes, coaches, Technical Officials and LOCs. On our social media pages we have been publishing the best examples of triathletes’ home training videos on Instagram and launching a variety of different challenges. The most recent theme was “#myfirstbike” , by the way why don’t you post yours?
ETU is very much aware that the real world is what counts and that the “virtual world” we are currently focussed upon does not deliver prize-money. For this reason and of course, depending upon the guidance from each host nation, we hope to provide Elite, U23 and Junior athletes with the chance to earn a living.
We hope that by holding a number of races as shown on the new 2020 Race Calendar we will be able to deliver to the athletes some pool prize money for the Elite, Under 23 and Juniors.
ETU will do this using part of our financial reserves. The full terms and conditions can be found in the and in the document “2020 EVENTS & CRITERIA AMENDMENTS DUE TO COVID-19” We hope that the prize money will attract the athletes to the benefit of those LOCs that have supported the revised 2020 ETU Calendar.
Renato Bertrandi mentioned that: “We understand and have to accept that not all EU Nations will be allowed to travel and it is a risk we will have to take into account but we do want to provide our elite athletes with opportunities to race before the Tokyo Games Qualification process re-starts”
Events Calendar and Rankings
One of the main achievements of the conference call is the new revised events calendar and alongside, an exceptional 2020 ranking procedure approved by all. Again, please refer to the COVID-19 document.
“I would like to stress that it is important for all LOCs to refer to and to use the new ITU guidelines”, said ETU Race Commission Chair Herwig Grabner. “If LOCs cannot provide the necessary assurance to ETU that these guidelines can and will be used, the event cannot take place. Furthermore, the event host country government cannot have any restrictions on events taking place and there should be no travel restrictions for the majority of the European Countries. ETU has also set a special deadline to cancel events.
Therefore, for European Championships involving AG participation the deadline to cancel the events is 10 weeks prior to the race date, for all European Cups (elite and juniors) 8 weeks. We recommend that National Federations wait to book any travel until the event cancellation deadline for each event has expired. We also recommend having travel cancellation insurance as the situation changes on a regular basis.”
As for European Cups Ranking criteria due to the decision of the ITU there will not be any points for the ITU World Rankings and Continental rankings from either Continental Championships and Continental Cups before the Olympic Ranking is active again. ETU will try to maintain the European Cup rankings, the U23 rankings, junior rankings and the junior’s nation standing. Again, the full details are contained in the document that can be downloaded here.
Development projects subsidies
ETU is strongly committed to the wide range of development activities that we have traditionally delivered. We will advise National Federations of any future plans for camps, courses and seminars in due course.
As for the funding projects for individual federations, ETU Development Committee liaison Maria Charkouskaya-Tarasevich said: “Although in the days of quarantine and lockdowns in your countries it is impossible to put in place your individual development projects as well as to participate in ETU common development projects, ETU assures you that all the projects which will be realized later this season will get subsidies as previously agreed. In the event that you see no way for your project to be implemented, please do not hesitate to contact ETU Development Committee Secretary Werner Taveirne email@example.com and propose a modified project in case you see chances for a new project to be realized this season. In case the best solution according to the situation in your country will be to postpone your project to the next year, please inform the ETU Development committee about it as well till September 15th.”
The submission date for 2021 projects will be starting in October 2020.
Aldo Lucarini, ETU Development Committee Chair has underlined that the ETU Development committee will be very flexible in accepting any modifications to the NFs development projects. “Please notify the Committee on the status of your projects and we’ll do our best to support NFs to implement the projects in 2020” said Mr. Lucarini.
Social distancing doesn’t mean we are far from each other
“I want to reassure you that ITU, ETU, all of us are working in order to minimise the impact of this unprecedented period in our Sport” - said Renato Bertrandi in conclusion. “Today, like never before, we need to work in close contact: only if we stay together in a positive and transparent way, sharing our problems and solutions, will we be able to overcome this difficult period. In June, 2019, The IOC told us “Change or be changed”. This is more true today than ever before and I am sure that Triathlon in Europe will find its way, in hand with ITU, ready to grasp every opportunity that is there in this time of crisis. We all understand now that the consequences of this pandemic will affect every area of society, sport included. We at ETU are committed to support our Athletes, who must feel so disoriented just now. Our European Triathletes have been showing great commitment and for this reason we want to support them by giving them a chance to win the 2020 pool prize-money. We want to give them goals that can motivate them. Goals that will give meaning to this 2020 Season and keep them in the sport”.