Border news a serious hit to trans-Tasman sport competitions

Source: 1News

Sporting administrations in New Zealand were hoping for a miracle with Wednesday's Covid border announcement - instead they've almost been handed a worst-case scenario.

It was a tough reminder to sports organisers that the ball is still very much on the Government’s side of the court and right now, they’re playing hard ball.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced there will no MIQ for fully-vaccinated Kiwis in Australia from January 17 but foreign nationals won’t be allowed in until “April onwards”.

Without discussions with the Government, it means all non-Kiwi sports team won’t be able to enter New Zealand until, realistically, before early May unless they’ve already booked in MIQ spaces such as the touring cricket sides coming this summer.

But for Australia's A-League, NBL and Super Rugby franchises, it's far more problematic.

Take rugby for example - under the new rules the first 11 weeks of the competition, as scheduled, won’t happen as Australian teams and Fijian Drua won’t be able to enter and exit the country.

Minister of Sports Grant Robertson said it’s tough but the right call.

“Of course I want the Super Rugby competition to take place, but we're always led by the health advice here, and that's been the case all the way through,” Robertson said.

“There hasn't been a shift for the length of time.”

1News understands New Zealand Rugby are now seeking further detail from the Government, in case some workarounds are required such as some sort of replica of last year's Super Rugby Aotearoa before opening up for a trans-Tasman component to end the season.

Blues celebrate winning the Trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition.

But even that might be a stretch while incoming sides are required to do a week in isolation, Robertson said.

“The Ministry of Health's advice has consistently been to not have shortened isolation times.”

Timely advice given the Breakers’ current situation in Australia where the team is in isolation after four members of their travelling party tested positive for Covid on Tuesday.

While their most recent test results are expected later on Wednesday evening, captain Tom Abercrombie said the side are taking the situation in their stride.

“It’s just one of those ones that we knew this was a possibility of happening,” Abercrombie said.

“Whilst you think Covid is never going to get close to you, it's never going to affect you, it can sneak up on you silently as we've seen.”

The same could be said for Wednesday’s border announcement which could throw their planned homecoming in February into serious jeopardy.