NZ Open canned over Covid

Australian Brad Kennedy celebrates winning the 2020 New Zealand Open. PHOTO: BRETT PHIBBS...
Australian Brad Kennedy celebrates winning the 2020 New Zealand Open. PHOTO: BRETT PHIBBS/PHOTOSPORT
The New Zealand Golf Open has been canned.

One of New Zealand’s pre-eminent sporting events, the tournament, scheduled to be played at Millbrook Resort and The Hills in Queenstown in February 2021, has been cancelled.

The Chairman of the Organising Committee, John Hart, confirmed the cancellation, due to the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic and the related health and financial risks.

The 102nd New Zealand Open will now be played between 17th and 20th February 2022.

“We are extremely disappointed to have had to come to this decision but the effects of the pandemic, borders being closed, and the financial risk associated with a potential later cancellation due to any further Covid-19 outbreaks means we have no other alternative other than to cancel this event now,” Mr Hart said.

“This is not a decision we have made lightly, and we are particularly disappointed for the Queenstown region who have suffered many setbacks during this Covid-19 era.”

The tournament's organising committee met last night to discuss the event, after its director Michael Glading said yesterday it was "looking unlikely" the Open would take place.

He said he did not want to pre-empt any decision, "but you’d have to say at the moment it’s looking unlikely.

"We’ve left the decision-making as late as we possibly can but we’ve now reached the point where we have to make a decision because the longer it goes on, the more difficult it gets."

To commit to the event with no certainty of a transtasman bubble was a huge risk and could result in a $4 million loss for tournament host Millbrook Resort alone should Covid-19 force its later cancellation.

Cancellation would also mean the loss of millions of dollars to the local economy.

"It’s very difficult," Mr Glading said.

"If we could guarantee the Australian border was open, that ... would be a great outcome, but as it stands, right at this minute, we still don’t know.

"We’re very unhappy about the situation we’re in, but at the end of the day there’s not much we can do about it.  

"It is a big call either way, absolutely."

Millbrook golf director Brian Spicer was yesterday waiting to hear back from the Government about whether there were "any safeguards or certainty" to enable them to plan the event.

"We need the Australian border to be open and I’m not seeing anything that says that’s going to be the case."

Sir Michael Hill, instrumental in getting the Open to Queenstown, yesterday said "it’s not looking good".

"It’s a major concern and it’ll be quite disappointing if it doesn’t go ahead, but nothing’s very predictable here at the moment, is it?"  

The cancellation of the New Zealand Open follows announcements in the past 10 days of the cancellation of Australia’s four major golf tournaments; the Australian Men’s Open, the Australian Women’s Open, the Australian PGA Championship, and the Victorian Open, all similarly planned for February 2021.







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