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Exclusive: TT boss Paul Phillips discusses 2021 cancellation

This lunchtime’s decision to cancel the Isle of Man TT Races for a second year running will have come as a hammer blow to many people, not least the Manx economy, riders and race fans with everyone coming to terms with the implications.

We spoke to TT Business Development Manager Paul Phillips this afternoon to get further details on the decision and what it means for the event when it returns in 2022.

What were the ultimate deciding factors in TT2021 being cancelled?


The Isle of Man Government felt that it was really important to make an early decision to provide certainty and clarity to race fans and everyone else involved in the event. The TT relies on thousands of volunteers and officials across a wide range of organisations and we could not responsibly move towards a positive decision to proceed in planning for 2021, which would involve committing to welcoming tens of thousands of people to the Island in June, despite the progress towards a vaccination programme globally and on the Island.

On the flip side, what were the main reasons for not having an August TT?

Ultimately the feedback from various stakeholders involved with the delivery of the event, including the accommodation and travel sectors, meant that there was no option but to cancel rather than postpone. There are a number of complexities and risks, including scaling up of certain infrastructure and critical delivery elements of the TT, as well as existing resident and visitor travel in late August, which would cause further disruption to thousands of people.

How close was the decision between August and a cancellation?

Well it was certainly thoroughly investigated, and I think it would be fair to say that it was probably the preferred option inside of Isle of Man Government for some time. But as I said, it soon became clear it wasn’t going to be achievable no matter what.

What input did you have to the decision? What conversations did you have with the Department of Enterprise? Would you have liked to have seen an August TT?

My colleagues and I were involved in gathering feedback from everyone that could give us relevant information – teams, riders, sponsors, race organisers etc. and we also worked with our colleagues in the Visit Isle of Man Agency to get a broader picture. But ultimately this is a national decision taken by the Island’s Council of Ministers.

On a personal note, it’s obviously disappointing to see the TT cancelled two years in a row but we are very much focused on delivering a bigger and better TT for fans when we return.

How damaging to the Isle of Man economy will it be to have no IOM TT for a second year running? What shape will the island be in come 2022?


The TT is assessed to make a contribution of around £27m into the local economy annually but our colleagues in the Department for Enterprise have been working closely with affected local businesses, including the travel and accommodation sector, and have developed a series of grants and schemes to support the industry and ensure that once the Island’s borders open again, they can continue to provide services

And what about from a racing perspective? Do you expect the entry to have a different look to it in 2022?

It’s very difficult to say at this early stage. I am confident firstly, that when the TT returns we will be delivering it on a bigger scale than before with a number of exciting plans already in the works. And secondly, I can really sense just how much the riders and teams are missing the TT when I speak to them, and I can see real momentum and excitement building amongst everyone involved as we work towards its return.

What has been the reaction from the riders and teams?


It’s still early, but from those I have had communication with there is obvious disappointment. But there has also been a lot of pragmatism about the pandemic situation generally which is impacting everyone but also the situation locally here on the Isle of Man. It has been nice to see how much our riders in particular love our Island and not just the TT, and how respectful they have been towards the health and wellbeing of our residents.

With no racing on the Mountain Course at present, a lot of work and research has been taking place with regards to the future of the event, what can you tell me about that?

I can’t tell you much right now, apart from we have spent a lot of time working on the long term future of the TT this year as you mentioned, and it is very much our intention to bring it back bigger, stronger and more sustainable. The silver lining of the Covid-19 cloud for us has been the opportunity to fully focus on this work for a period of time and really challenge everything we do and every action we have taken in order to understand what we can do better. It has been extraordinarily productive and could in the long term, prove to be a blessing in disguise for the long term success of the Isle of Man TT Races.

On that basis, will changes be implemented for 2022, both on and off the track?

Almost certainly yes. It’s too early to be specific at the moment, but our current thinking is that we will announce our plans for the future around the traditional TT dates in June next year, to give people a full year to plan ahead of what we hope will be our comeback event.

So race fans can expect TT 2022 to look bigger, better and stronger than ever before?

Absolutely. 100 per cent. I am absolutely confident of that and excited about the possibilities.

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