COVID plagues NZ sport, Aust T20 tour

·3-min read

New Zealand sport continues to be hurt by the country's stiff COVID-19 border rules, which threaten the Black Caps tour of Australia this month and the fair staging of the Women's ODI Cricket World Cup in March.

On Friday, Cricket NZ revealed it was reconsidering the four-match tour of Australia as it had not made quarantine plans for its returning players.

Jacinda Ardern's government was due to abandon its policy of mandatory quarantine on arrival this month, but kicked the reopening down the road in December.

Cricket NZ spokesman Richard Boock admitted the tour wasn't set in stone.

"We're committed to touring and we've got a few balls in the air. We don't feel we've exhausted all solutions ... different solutions are all being considered," he told news outlet Stuff.

New Zealand remains closed to foreigners unless they have a government-issued exemption, and even then, all visitors must complete 10 days in quarantine.

The tough regulations have kept Kiwi clubs in Australian competitions - such as the A-League's Wellington Phoenix, the NBL's Breakers and the NRL's Warriors - stationed in Australia.

New Zealand is missing from the U19 Men's Cricket World Cup, starting in the West Indies this weekend, because of the rules.

The Silver Ferns were forced to abandon last October's Constellation Cup but have left NZ to play in a Quad Series against England, Australia and South Africa in London this week.

Also on Friday, the All Blacks and Black Ferns confirmed they won't travel to Spain for this month's World Rugby Sevens rounds in Seville and Malaga.

"It's frustrating not being able to travel at the moment but that is out of our control," All Blacks Sevens coach Craig Laidlaw said.

"What we can control is what we do here each day, the players have come back in great spirits and now it's time to crack on, we'll be ready for whenever the borders open and we can travel."

In March, New Zealand will host the first of three high-profile women's World Cups set for the next 18 months.

The 50-over cricket tournament precedes the rugby union World Cup in October and the football World Cup, co-hosted with Australia, next winter.

The current border rules stop foreign fans, as well as media, from entering New Zealand.

"While we'd love to have welcomed international fans, ticket sales are strong and we have plans in place to welcome fans of all teams to fill our grounds and show their support," said ICC tournament chief executive Andrea Nelson.

The border rules could also see cricketers miss the showpiece event.

The current plan is for squads to enter New Zealand together as one group, with each participating nation allowed groups of up to 30 players and support staff.

However, players, coaches or staff who happen to catch COVID-19 in the lead-up to travel would be barred from entry.

It is understood tournament organisers are looking to make back-up arrangements to ensure this doesn't end the World Cup dreams of those attending the showpiece event.

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