Minister of State for Sport Thomas Byrne has asked that Sport Ireland liaise with Triathlon Ireland to provide support in the completion of a review into Sunday’s tragic events at the Ironman race in Cork.

Questions have been raised over the timing of a decision and its communication about sanctioning of the race with Ironman representatives saying they were not told of the concerns until after the race.

The safety plan around any major event is a complex piece of work involving the organisers, the local authority, and emergency services.

The report, which needs to be given time, will be important for all involved with the staging of mass participation events, though the risk profile of the swim element does raise an event like this above what would normally be expected.


Original Sport for Business Report from Tuesday, August 22nd

It has emerged that Triathlon Ireland did not sanction the swimming element of Sunday morning’s tragic Ironman event in Cork due to safety concerns.

In a statement issued yesterday which has been picked up be media all around the world, Triathlon Ireland CEO Darren Coomes said:

“Triathlon Ireland is reeling from the news that Ivan Chittenden and Brendan Wall, athletes in the Ironman Cork event in Youghal, tragically died yesterday morning while participating in the race. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ivan’s and Brendan’s loved ones. The triathlon community is a very close community and this loss has had a devastating effect on all of us.”

“Triathlon Ireland is the National Governing Body for triathlon in Ireland, a role which includes providing sanction for club and commercial races to proceed. In our almost 40-year history, the sport in Ireland has an impeccable safety record.”

“For the Ironman Cork event, in line with normal practice, Triathlon Ireland Technical Officials attended before the start of the race to review the conditions and carry out a water safety assessment. Due to adverse conditions on the day, Triathlon Ireland Technical Officials confirmed to the race organisers that it was not possible to sanction the race.”

“As there is an investigation ongoing, at this stage it would not be appropriate for us to make any further comment only to state that Triathlon Ireland will provide any assistance that the authorities require.”

“Finally, we reiterate our deepest condolences to the families of Ivan Chittenden and Brendan Wall.”

Ironman is a very professional organisation that manages and conducts its own safety checks and is responsible for the safety of participants.

It outlined its own actions that had taken place following the weather conditions being seen as an issue.

“On the morning of Sunday 20 August, Ironman Ireland officials and the specific on-swim safety team carried out all standard safety protocol checks that are completed at every race and determined water conditions were safe for the swim to take place,” it said in a statement.

“Due to the prevailing weather conditions, a decision was made, however, to shorten the distance of the swim as a further precaution to ensure that the significant water safety assets – such as kayaks, lifeguards and medical boats – could be concentrated over a smaller area while also allowing swimmers the ability to swim with the help of a more favourable current and incoming tide after the first 100m.”

Ironman has also extended its sympathies to the families of Ivan Chittenden and Brendan Wall who both died.

A series of investigations are now believed to be underway to determine the exact chain of events.

These will determine the hierarchy of approval for events to take place and no doubt the specifics of individual licences being granted.

In terms of liability, there is a standard ‘Acknowledgement and assumption of risks and release and indemnity document that forms part of signing up to an event of this nature.

There will always be an element of risk associated with adventure and extreme racing into which category this event would fall.

Participants will expect that safety measures are in place and that full due regard is taken of their general safety in so much as that is possible.

That will doubtless be the central point of the investigations to be carried out both internally and likely by Cork County Council and potentially Sport Ireland.