Auckland COVID Outbreak Hits Cricket, Sailing, Rugby

Auckland COVID Outbreak Hits Cricket, Sailing, Rugby

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: The fourth Twenty20 cricket international between New Zealand and Australia has been shifted and the first day of the Americas Cup sailing match likely will be postponed after new COVID-19 cases were reported in Auckland on Saturday.

Auckland was placed in limited lockdown for seven days from 6am Sunday with travel restrictions into and out of New Zealands largest city, strict limits on public gatherings, and a ban on sports events.

The third Australia-New Zealand T20 is due to be played in Wellington on Wednesday and the fourth match of the five-match series will also be played in that city on Friday, both without crowds.

While Auckland is at alert level 3, the rest of New Zealand is at level 2 which has fewer restrictions but limits public gatherings to 100 people.

The last T20 of the series is due to be at Tauranga on March 7 and might be able to be played with crowds if New Zealand moves back to level 1.

The alert level changes were announced late Saturday after two new coronavirus cases were located in the community which could not directly be linked to earlier cases. Auckland recently returned to level 1 after a small community cluster of infections.

The Australia cricket team reportedly had already been reluctant to travel to Auckland because doing so likely would have required players to quarantine on their return home.

The 36th match for the Americas Cup between Team New Zealand and Italys Luna Rossa was due to begin on Saturday but will likely have to be postponed until the alert level is reduced.

Cup organizers said they “will be working with the authorities and relevant agencies over the next few days to work through the implications.

Races in the Americas Cup challenger series took place this month without crowds when Auckland was at level 2. A government exemption would be needed and strict protocols would have to be in place for racing to take place at level 3.

Aucklands popular Round the Bays run, which attracts tens of thousands of participants, was canceled on Sunday.

We respect the need to keep everyone safe and contain the spread of COVID-19, organizers said.

In Super Rugby, the Auckland-based Blues beat the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday and will base themselves outside of their home city until the alert level changes. The team is unable to train at level 3.

Coach Leon Macdonald said the Blues would look at all options on a base for at least the next seven days. Other matches in the New Zealand competition will be played without crowds at level 2.


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