Triathlon Ireland has said it did not sanction a swim race in Co Cork in which two competitors died.
There has been shock after it emerged that Ivan Chittenden, in his 60s and from Toronto in Canada, and Brendan Wall, who was in his 40s and living in the UK but originally from Co Meath, died competing in an Ironman event on Sunday.
They died in the swimming segment of the triathlon at Claycastle beach in Youghal.
Post-mortem examinations are taking place.
In a statement on its website, the head of Triathlon Ireland said an investigation is under way.
Chief executive Darren Coombes said the organisation is reeling from the deaths of the men competing in the Ironman Cork event in Youghal.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Ivan’s and Brendan’s loved ones. The triathlon community is a very close community and this loss has had a devastating effect on all of us,” he said.
He went on to say Triathlon Ireland officials did not sanction the swim race due to adverse conditions.
“Triathlon Ireland is the national governing body for triathlon in Ireland, a role which includes providing sanction for club and commercial races to proceed.
“In our almost 40-year history, the sport in Ireland has an impeccable safety record.
“For the Ironman Cork event, in line with normal practice, Triathlon Ireland technical officials attended before the start of the race to review the conditions and carry out a water safety assessment.
“Due to adverse conditions on the day, Triathlon Ireland technical officials confirmed to the race organisers that it was not possible to sanction the race.
“As there is an investigation ongoing, at this stage it would not be appropriate for us to make any further comment only to state that Triathlon Ireland will provide any assistance that the authorities require.”
He added: “Finally, we reiterate our deepest condolences to the families of Ivan Chittenden and Brendan Wall.”
Sadness has been expressed widely at the deaths of the men.
Phil Harris, a competitor from Co Down, said his thoughts and prayers were with the families of the men.
“The weather conditions changed quite quickly whenever we were getting into the water. It wasn’t so bad once you got through the waves,” he added.
Cork County Council extended sympathies to the families.
“Cork County Council is deeply saddened over the tragic loss of two race participants during the Ironman 70.3 Ireland, Cork 2023 event in Youghal today,” it said.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of the athletes at this incredibly difficult time.
“Our thoughts are with those who have been affected and we are currently offering every assistance required to the Ironman Group and all those impacted.
“We wish to express our gratitude to the response agencies involved, including our dedicated fire and emergency personnel, for their unwavering efforts during this difficult time.”
The men had been competing in the half Ironman, a 70.3 mile half triathlon, which had been moved from Saturday to Sunday as a result of Storm Betty.
The event continued with a 90km cycle and a long-distance run.