Australian running icon Steve Moneghetti believes mass participation events being held under COVID-safe guidelines are providing the template on how to bring community sport back during the pandemic.
Ironman events on the Sunshine Coast and in Cairns this month have both been held under strict conditions.
Moneghetti says with summer just around the corner, the success of both Ironman races have shown it is possible to hold large community events during the pandemic.
"If you're going to give an example of where you wanted the community to transition back in to competitive sporting community activities, then these events are a good way of testing it and showing how you can do it in a COVID-safe environment," Moneghetti told AAP.
"If you were at the Sunny Coast, there were things there - they're innovative, they were things that you're suddenly going, 'oh, yeah, wow, that's what we needed'.
"I don't think any of us would be under any illusions that it will be a different world.
"But we can really learn from the way these events are organised, and that'll be the way that we will get the community back into exercise."
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Australia hard in March, many notable sporting events including marathons in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast have all been abandoned.
Sydney's iconic City2Surf run was cancelled for the first time in 50 years while the 2020 Coolangatta Gold was another victim of the pandemic.
Moneghetti is an ambassador for the Australian Mass Participation Sporting Event Alliance, which is seeking a $48 million Federal Government stimulus in the October budget to help major sporting events through the crisis.
The Commonwealth Games gold medallist said community sporting events provide more than just an economic and physical benefit to the country.
"One of the activities that we can do here in Victorian COVID lockdown is we can get out and exercise, because it seemed to be such an important thing for our mental health and wellbeing," Moneghetti said.
"These mass participation events, they're the outcome of getting people to do that.
"It's the reason a lot of people will get out the door so there is no doubt that if we lose a percentage of people who are participating in these mass events, then it's going to have a serious effect on not only the social fabric of the community but the health and wellbeing of people."
Australian Associated Press