Restrictions order of day for South

Mike Coggan
Mike Coggan
Southern sporting officials knew Omicron was coming and are now finalising what the Red light rules will mean for their events in the coming weeks.

The New Zealand Masters Games, scheduled to be held in Dunedin from February 5 to Febrary 13, were the first major casualty following the Government’s announcement of the move yesterday.

They had already attracted 3405 entries, and more would have been expected for the celebration of masters sport that injects so much colour and commerce into the city every two years.

Most other major sporting events in the South appear set to go ahead but with the reduction in gathering limits to 100 (if vaccine passports are used), or multiple groups of 100 that can be kept separate.

Otago cricket is set to host the Super Smash elimination finals (women’s and men’s) at the University Oval on Thursday.

That will feature four teams, three from outside the region.

Otago boss Mike Coggan said he was meeting New Zealand Cricket representatives this morning to discuss the situation.

The Women’s Cricket World Cup begins on March 4 — Dunedin is scheduled to host three games — and Minister for Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson said yesterday it was certain to be played.

"The Women's Cricket World Cup organisers have been planning for the tournament to take place in the Red setting, and it can absolutely do that."

Robertson highlighted the ability for events to have more than 100 people under Red if groups could be kept in bubbles.

"Bear in mind, when we brought the Red setting in, it is possible to use the defined space rules to have, effectively, pods of 100 people — as long as they can keep separate from one another and come in and out of the venue separately.

"I know the Women's Cricket World Cup team have been thinking about that, if it is necessary."

Dunedin is also hosting a one-day international between the Black Caps and the Netherlands on March 29.

The Highlanders are scheduled to play Super Rugby Pacific pre-season games in Weston (February 4, v Crusaders) and Queenstown (February 11, v Moana Pasifika).

Details will be confirmed soon but it is virtually certain those games will be played behind closed doors with only a handful of members allowed to attend, a big blow for North Otago rugby, especially, which was also hosting Dave Dobbyn in a carnival atmosphere for the Farmlands Cup.

"We’ve been preparing for this moment, and those games will certainly go ahead," Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark said yesterday.

"We’re working with NZ Rugby and the Players’ Association over the next 48 hours to clarify exactly what will happen.

"We’ll explore all avenues. But at the moment, I’d say it’s 99% certain those games won’t have public ticket sales, but we’d hope to maybe reward some members."

There was no suggestion Super Rugby Pacific games would be affected other than by the gathering restrictions, Clark said.

"The bottom line is the competition must go on. It’s our business."

The Highlanders’ first home game of the regular season is against the Crusaders on February 26.

In netball, the Southern Steel has pre-season games in Queenstown (February 14, v Tactix) and Dunedin (February 17, v Pulse).

A spokeswoman said the Steel was considering the logistics of the Red light setting and would be taking guidance from Netball New Zealand.

A major Yamaha motorcycling event at Teretonga, acting as a fundraiser for boom Southland rider Cormac Buchanan, can continue with restrictions under the new setting.

Likewise, the major race meeting at Wingatui on February 5 — including the group 3 White Robe Lodge weight for age, the Dunedin Gold Cup and the Dunedin Guineas — will be fine to proceed with gathering restrictions.

Otago Softball is assessing the Red guidelines, as it hosts its annual invitational tournament this weekend.

The Otago strokeplay golf championships will continue at Balmacewen as planned on Friday-Saturday. Fewer than 100 golfers are in the field, and all must show vaccine passports.

In a decision made before the move to Red, the Kaikorai Cricket Club is following in North East Valley’s footsteps and postponing its centennial celebrations, due to be held on March 19-21.

The risk was too great as people were coming from all parts of New Zealand and from overseas, and the club wanted to make an early call to avoid causing chaos with travel plans, a Kaikorai spokesman said.


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