FEARS have been raised over thousands of competitors and spectators descending on Weymouth for this year's Ironman contest during the Covid-19 pandemic, after organisers announced the spectacle would still go ahead this year as planned.

Organisers of the Ironman 70.3 Weymouth event have confirmed plans to plough ahead with the gruelling event on Sunday, September 20 following consultations with council bosses.

Measures are being taken to ensure the safety of athletes, staff, spectators and local residents, with event bosses insisting they are following the direction and recommendations of public health agencies and local authorities to ensure a safe racing environment.

Despite this, residents have expressed fears that they will be put at risk if thousands of people from across the country flock to the area from across the country in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.

One resident, Graham Wilson, from Dorchester, said: “As a vulnerable person who has been shielding and in isolation for the past 18 weeks it dismayed me more than somewhat to receive through my door a leaflet advertising the Ironman event being held in Weymouth in September.

“If we allow thousands of visitors into, not only the county, but one particular town then surely the risk of cross infection and the rise of the infection rate across the area surely cannot be dismissed as being less important as staging a race.

“The event will include thousands of athletes and presumably a few more thousand support staff and vehicles, not allowing for fans and onlookers.

“Nothing can realistically be done to ensure these persons are all safe and free from the virus.”

Resident David Nunn, from Weymouth said: “I cannot believe that in the middle of a major pandemic, the local councils are allowing a non-critical Ironman event to take place in Weymouth. I absolutely disagree with this, and demand that this event does not go ahead.

“I cannot believe the stupidity of it going ahead."

Although this year’s participation numbers are not yet known, around 2,500 competitors have been involved in the past, along with crowds lining the seafront and some streets.

Temporary road closures will be in place throughout the day in the Weymouth and Dorchester areas, as well as surrounding countryside.

Road closures include Weymouth Esplanade, which will be shut from 6.30am to 2pm, and Preston Beach Road, from Westerhall Road to Overcombe Roundabout, which will be closed from 4am to 6pm. Sections of the B3390 will also be closed as well as other routes.

Organisers have sent out leaflets to residents to allow them to plan journeys in advance, but concerns have been raised that road closures will lead to heavy traffic and delays.

Mr Wilson added: "It will cause a major disruption to traffic. Getting anywhere around Weymouth and the surrounding area on this day has been a nightmare from experience."