NZ braced for Covid-19 to have some impact on America's Cup
The New Zealand government has admitted that the coronavirus pandemic could affect sailing’s next America’s Cup even though the event is not due to take place until 2021.
Although the country has been largely safeguarded from the spread of Covid-19, and cases are falling in hotbeds like Europe, there are concerns that travel restrictions could delay teams from heading down under to begin preparations.
New Zealand’s borders remain closed to all except returning citizens and permanent residents who must undergo a mandatory two-week quarantine period.
In a statement, Phil Twyford, the country’s economic development minister, said: “At this stage it is hard to know the extent to which COVID-19 will affect the 36th Americas Cup in Auckland, however there is likely to be some impact.
“The government is highly motivated to see the 36th Americas Cup go ahead. However, critical factors including restrictions on gatherings, and any restrictions for borders both here and internationally still have to be worked through.”
Grant Simmer, the chief executive of Great Britain entry Ineos Team UK, has expressed concern over when the restrictions will be lifted.
He told a Cruising Yacht Club of Australia podcast: “We don’t know when we can come down to New Zealand. We need to get a forward party there to set up the base and start things happening. The New Zealand Government has been silent.”
Team preparations for the America’s Cup have also been disrupted by the cancellation of preparatory America’s Cup World Series events in Cagliari in Italy and Portsmouth in the UK.
The Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series is due to take place in January and February of next year, with the winner to take on defender Emirates Team New Zealand in the America's Cup itself on 6 to 21 March.