Tokyo Olympics 2020: Coronavirus cancellations disrupt Kiwi rowers' Olympics bid

Olympic preparations for NZ rowers have been thrown into disarray, after the coronavirus outbreak forced World Rowing to cancel May's World Cup in Italy.

The event is one of two major trials for the games and the cancellation has forced last-minute changes to the team's four-month build-up to Tokyo.

"It's not ideal it's been cancelled, in terms of a racing perspective," veteran rower Stephen Jones told Newshub. 

But the athletes insist it could be worse.

With the final World Cup regatta scheduled to go ahead as planned, they'll travel to Europe just once, and will now stay home and race each other on Lake Karapiro. 

"We do have a really strong squad here at home," said former Olympic pair champion Eric Murray. "We have some good world champion crews to benchmark off."

But for the men's eight, the cancelled competition was their chance to measure where they were, before attempting to qualify the boat at a last-chance regatta in May.   

"Ultimately, they wanted to go have a shot and see how they were going, and now they're going to have to just turn up," said Murray's old crewmate, Hamish Bond, now a member of the men's eight.

A decision is yet to be made whether World Cup III and the last-chance qualifying regatta will go ahead. 

If both are cancelled, the mens eight would likely qualify, based on last year's world championship results

"I'm sure they wouldn't mind that," said Murray. "But ultimately people want to be racing."

Despite the disruption, Bond is confident they're in with a good shout, come Tokyo.

"We'd be a good wildcard chance," said Bond. "We'd have to be nudging a world record to be in the medal hunt.

"I think it is achievable, we'll just have to be on our game."

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