NELSON Mandela Bay is poised to benefit immensely from what will be a double header year when the city hosts the regular IRONMAN African Championship in April 2018 and later in September 2018 the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship.
Nelson Mandela Bay submitted its bid to host this iconic event against some of the most popular cities in the world in March last year.
Competition included Niece in France, as well as Budapest in Hungary.
The city was announced as the successful bidder in September last year, largely due to its impressive history in hosting major international sporting events, including the award-winning IRONMAN African Championship.
The city has been hard at work behind the scenes putting together a multidisciplinary team consisting of city officials, municipal entities, provincial government representatives and IRONMAN South Africa.
Noxolo Nqwazi, executive director at the Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture (DSRAC), the department tasked with overseeing this iconic event, said, â€œWe have been busy finalising all the relevant host city obligations, developing a business plan and identifying the critical skills that will drive this project to successful delivery in 2018 working side by side with IRONMAN.â€?
With less than a month left since global qualification to race in NMBay opened, more than 200 athletes from around the world have booked their place to race on September 1 and 2.
Unlike the regular IRONMAN African Championship, prospective athletes have to book their entries by qualifying at one of more than 90 IRONMAN 70.3 races around the world.
Speaking on the economic benefits and all the spin-offs from an event of this calibre, member of the mayoral committee councillor Andrew Whitfield said, â€œThis event could not have come at a better time, a time when our economy has gone through serious contractions especially in the automotive sector.
â€œIt will see more than 4 000 athletes racing over two spectacular days in our city; nearly 30 000 international visitors will descend on Nelson Mandela Bay over a period of at least 10 days.
â€œThe direct spend over that period is estimated at an impressive R300 million in Nelson Mandela Bay.â€?