Elephant fundraisers paddles on

BANGKOK, 2 March 2020: Boat racing in Bangkok bucked the trend that has seen sports events cancel or postpone for fear of stoking the coronavirus spread.

The second annual Elephant Boat Race and River Festival concluded on the banks Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River at the weekend.

The Covid-19 outbreak has caused the cancellation of mega-events worldwide including ITB Berlin this week, but in Bangkok, 16 teams turned out to compete for the trophy and raise funds for elephant welfare projects in Thailand, as hundreds of spectators looked on from the festival grounds.

Teams paddled specially commissioned traditional racing boats decorated with artistic elephant heads rising elegantly above the water, and tails inspired by Thai fish motifs.

The knock-out races took place on a  20 metre stretch of the river in downtown Bangkok with four teams per heat.

On the sidelines of the primary races, a riverside festival played out.  Visitors to the three-day event snacked in luxury tents where they could follow the boat races, view kite flying sponsored by the Thailand Kite Association, and listen to concerts by top Thai artists including Paradox, Oat Pramote and a line-up of international DJs.

A street-food village with pop up food stalls hosted by some of Bangkok’s top restaurants and chefs completed the festival offerings.

Organisers of the boat race festival, Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, raise funds through ticket sales to elephant-related projects in Thailand.