When Eric Roza purchased CrossFit from founder Greg Glassman, he immediately faced significant decisions. He and CrossFit Director of Sport Dave Castro had to decide whether to hold the upcoming 2020 CrossFit Games or to cancel them due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They ultimately decided to move forward with the annual competition, albeit with some major changes.
According to a press release from CrossFit HQ, the 2020 Reebok CrossFit Games will take place in late September and early October following input from participating athletes. The competition to find the Fittest Man and Fittest Woman on Earth traditionally takes place in July or early August, but the later date will provide Castro with more time to adjust to health and safety concerns. Additionally, the field of competitors is drastically smaller to keep the athletes and judges safe. Instead of roughly 30 men or 30 women, only five of each will head to Aromas, California.
"The 2020 Reebok CrossFit Games are a go," said CrossFit CEO Eric Roza in a statement. "At CrossFit, we are always energized by a challenge, and hosting a worldwide sporting event in the age of COVID is no exception. We are excited to be able to deliver the CrossFit Games to our athletes, fans, and CrossFit gym members in 158 countries through a two-stage format that combines a worldwide online competition with a small in-person finals in Northern California. This innovative format will help us protect the safety of our athletes while delivering a world-class Games experience to identify the world's fittest individuals."
To find the top competitors for each division, CrossFit will hold an online event where the 30 athletes do events at their gyms spread across 16 countries. This Livestream online competition will start on Sept. 18 and will last two or three days. This stage will determine the finishing order and prize money for the competitors in sixth to 30th place.
Following the online stage, the final five men and women will prepare for their trips to Castro's family's ranch in Northern California, where the Games originally took place in 2007. This in-person event will run from Oct. 19-25 and will air courtesy of a yet-to-be-announced broadcast partner. All of the athletes will partner with an experienced judge from the CrossFit Seminar Staff.
"The world is dealing with an unprecedented crisis," said Castro. "After extensive discussions with athletes and public health officials, we decided that this format was the best way to preserve the spirit and substance of the Games and ensure athletes can compete for the title of Fittest on Earth in a safe and fair manner." While the athletes continue training, Castro remains in Northern California, preparing the latest tests of fitness and mental strength.