COVID-19’s Impact On The Open Water In Samoa, Tahiti, Tonga

Courtesy of Seti Afoa, Samoa.

Seti Afoa is the organizer of Samoa Events, Samoa Swim Series and Five Islands Challenge.

He made a public announcement regarding his events in Samoa and a few other races in the South Pacific.

Afoa wrote, “Wherever you are in the world you will be experiencing the impact of the COVID-19 virus that is sweeping the world over. Your experience will be hardly different to mine in Auckland, New Zealand where I will be based for the next month. We went into Lockdown for four weeks when it is reviewed. It is the best way to slow community spread and maybe even stop the spread of the virus in New Zealand altogether. There are no casualties yet, but it’s only a matter of time. No country is safe from this and lives are being changed forever as a result of the forceful changes the spread of the virus is bringing to the world. We haven’t seen anything like this in our lifetime, anything that impacts the entire world together at the same time.

The first news of COVID-19 filtered through in mid-January and two months later borders are being closed, cities, regions, states and even countries are being shut down. There are 17,000 people that have fallen victim as a result and that number will just keep multiplying. The virus is no respecter of ethnicity, class or religion – we are all vulnerable and in this together.

There is a silver lining, this thing will pass. But only if we follow what our governments are telling us to do. When it is all over life will return to normality again. That is the immediate hope.

I would like to send a thought and warm wishes to those of you in the medical profession who are on the frontline of community engagement with the virus. Your role is so very vital and important at this time and you are placing you own lives at risk. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time.

Take care everyone, stay safe and well at this time. I will see you on the other side when this is all over.

Samoa is virus-free at present, though that could change at any time. The Samoan Government from the outset of the coronavirus declaration back in January immediately put in place a very tough screening process on all new arrivals into the country, local residents and tourists. When I landed in Apia in late January, I went from the plane through a medical zone of masked medical professionals with thermometers and other gadgets before I was allowed to proceed to passport control and customs. So far, this robust screening process has been enough to keep the virus out. Long may it continue.

Other Samoa Events destinations:
Tonga – 0 cases
French Polynesia – 23 cases

Bookings:
Uptake of 2020 events has taken a major hit as a results of the COVID-19 situation. Enquiries came to a total standstill and a few bookings have been cancelled. But there is a healthy line of enquiry on various events from August onwards and we have the bulk of our bookings intact for events in Samoa, Tonga and Tahiti. Whilst none of the events are canceled, we are taking a hold and lets see approach to further payments that are due now. We will revisit that in May when we can see a little clearer ahead. Please hold off on any payments that were due in April for existing bookings.

Refund Policy:
We had quite a run on cash reserves in January and February as we had a few cancellations due to the virus. There are a few who have opted to move their existing booking ahead to next year in 2021. This is a our preferred option now for refunds.

Events 2020:
At this point, we have one event that is being directly affected by the COVID-19 Emergency. Our local events are not listed, those events will resume once the Emergency in Samoa is lifted. I am hopeful of a major change in circumstances with the virus after two months but nothing is certain, let’s wait and see before we postpone or cancel any of the events.

Apolima Strait:
Of all the events, this is the most affected. The swim date for Apolima Strait was March 31st, swimmers and supporters were due to travel to Samoa this week, but that is obviously not going to happen now. The swim is now postponed to August, a week after Samoa Samoa Swim Series. Some swimmers have opted to change entirely to next year’s swim with a date to be confirmed. There are also others who are looking to do the swim with us on other dates.

Pacific Open Water Challenge / Samoa Swim Series / Savai’i Experience:
No change. Bookings open.

5 Islands Swim – Samoa
September 8th – 12th, no change, bookings open

Tonga Swim
September 14th – 21st, no change, bookings open

Tahiti Swim
October 1st – 8th, no change, bookings open

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