Minister of Culture Tiit Terik has decided to demand NGO Sportlik Eesti return €204,055 of support for the "Ironman Tallinn 2021" competition as the latter's economic effect fell short of expectations.
The NGO applied for support of €700,000 to organize the "Ironman Tallinn 2021" competition on April 5. The ministry decided to satisfy the application and pay out €350,000 in advance and the second half of the sum after the project's eligibility and final report have been approved.
The recipient filed the final report and economic effects analysis on November 30. The report read that the competition saw 1,436 participants from 62 countries that fell short of expectations.
"COVID-19 restrictions made it impossible for a lot of people from foreign countries to travel to Estonia. Estonia's yellow and orange coronavirus threat levels meant that a lot of participants faced difficulties leaving and returning to their own countries," the organizer wrote.
For example, at the time the Ironman competition took place, over the weekend August 6-8, Estonia was on the U.K.'s travel restrictions "Amber" list, meaning that all travelers had to provide a pre-departure test. After arrival, vaccinated travelers had to do another test before or on day 2, there were no self-isolation requirements for them. Unvaccinated arrivals had to carry out Covid tests on day two and on day eight after arrival, and additionally to self-isolate for 10 days.
"A lot of participants postponed their participation until next year. Unfortunately, relevant expenses had already been made by then. Because the number of spectators is directly tied to number of participants, we also catered to fewer foreign spectators than forecast," the organizer's report continued, adding that this resulted in lower than expected turnover for Estonian companies and tax revenue.
Considering these aspects, the minister of culture has decided to lower the support sum by €204,055. The event organizer will be paid €145,945 instead of €350,000 as part of the second installment.
The December 10 directive can be challenged in Tallinn Administrative Court over a period of 30 days.
Please note this article was updated to include information on the U.K.'s travel restrictions at the time of the Ironman event, with special thanks to the British Embassy in Tallinn.
Editor: Marcus Turovski