COVID Causing Cost Surge for International Games Athletes Headed to Madison

July 5, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Ellie Turner (
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Australian Athlete Ellie Turner will make her first Games appearance this year in Madison, WI. Qualifying via a third place finish at the Torian Pro, she was stoked to be heading to the CrossFit Games.

  • “Getting to compete at the Games is an absolute dream come true and I’ve dedicated my whole life to it,” said Turner.

But her dream comes with a price tag of nearly $20,000. 

  • $800 to compete (Open, Quarterfinals, Semifinals, Games).
  • $10,000 for flights, travel insurance and hotel stay during a layover.
  • $6,200 for food and accommodations weeks leading up to and during the Games.
    • International athletes typically arrive a few weeks early to acclimatize to the weather and time zone.
  • $3,000 to quarantine for two weeks when returning to Australia.

Grand Total: $20,000

(Editor’s note: this is an estimate provided by Ellie and varies for each athlete.)

Why it matters: Travel was one of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic, and airline companies are still dealing with the repercussions after furloughing thousands of employees. As a means to offset limited flights as the airline industry tries to come back, prices have skyrocketed, primarily for those traveling to and from overseas.

  • “Because of COVID there aren’t many flights, and the flights that are going out aren’t full, so they have to bump up the prices to still make it worthwhile for the aircraft to fly,” Turner said.
  • In a normal year, Turner said flights could range from $2,500 to $3,000.
  • “You’ve just experienced this massive high of qualifying to the Games, but then you realize all the logistics and you come crashing down fairly quickly. But it’s also what I’ve been training for and my absolute dream to go to the Games so I’d do anything and pay anything to go. It would just be nice if I didn’t have to pay my entire year’s salary to get there,” said Turner.

Australian veteran Games athlete, Kara Saunders, has shared a similar travel bill. Saunders said in an Instagram post, “who’s paying for the additional family members to come over though? My trip already sits at over 20k for me alone. Imagine paying 40k+ to travel with one support member, on 5k Semifinal prize money. BRB (be right back), just gonna go sell my house to attend the Games.”

GEDfit, Turner’s CrossFit gym, wanted to help support her expenses for the Games. They hosted an in-house competition and raised more than $15,000.

The bottom line: While it’s costing many International CrossFit Athletes a hefty bill to compete, most are willing to do whatever it takes for a chance to throw down on the big stage at the CrossFit Games.

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