Major sports fixtures hit by alert level change

Team New Zealand in action during Prada Cup racing in Auckland earlier this month. Photo: Getty...
Team New Zealand in action during Prada Cup racing in Auckland earlier this month. Photo: Getty Images
A busy week of sport has been turned on its head following Auckland's move to alert level 3 for seven days while the rest of the country is at level 2.

It has forced several changes and unknowns for next week's sporting calendar, including the America's Cup, scheduled to start on March 6 in Auckland, with no live sport at level 3, while sport can go ahead at level 2 but without crowds.

Regatta organisers America's Cup Event said in a statement it was "reviewing the situation and will be working with the Authorities and relevant agencies over the next few days to work through the implications".

During the Prada Cup earlier this month, a Government exemption was required to race at Level 3. Racing was able to go ahead with crowd restrictions at Level 2.

New Zealand Cricket has quickly moved its T20 double-header featuring the Black Caps and White Ferns, scheduled for Eden Park on Friday, to Wellington, where it will be played without crowds.

The double-header scheduled for March 3 in Wellington will continue as planned but behind closed doors, while the event in Tauranga on March 7 will go ahead with NZ Cricket awaiting Government advice on any level change.

The first casualty from the snap lockdown was this morning's Auckland's Round the Bays run along the waterfront, which was set to feature tens of thousands of participants.

"We know how much all our participants were looking forward to event day, but we respect the need to keep everyone safe and contain the spread of Covid-19," the organisers said.

In rugby, the Blues – who beat the Hurricanes 31-16 in Wellington on Saturday – will likely be based outside of Auckland during the city's lockdown period to enable players to be able to train, as they have a bye in round two.

The clashes between the Chiefs and Highlanders and Crusaders and Hurricanes next weekend will likely be played behind closed doors.

Speaking after their opening win, which ended shortly before the Prime Minister's announcement, Blues coach Leon MacDonald said the team was open to moving away from Auckland for the duration of the restrictions.

"With the first lockdown a few weeks ago, we were ready to go," MacDonald said. "Now that we're out of the city, it makes sense that we keep alive in the competition. We need to keep training and [at] Level 3 we wouldn't be able to train. If we have to do a whole week sitting in our houses at home, it's going to put us behind the eight ball again."

The Silver Ferns' four-month Constellation Cup series with Australia, starting on March 2 in Christchurch will also be impacted by the Covid-19 restrictions.

Netball New Zealand have yet to announce its plans but the games in Christchurch and Tauranga next week will have to continue without fans, while Athletics New Zealand revealed that the National Track and Field Championships will not go ahead in Hawke's Bay next weekend.

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