Live updates: Coronavirus grips sport as New Zealand ramps up COVID-19 alert

7:45pm - Check out a full wrap of the day's developments in the video above. Stay tuned for more details as they come to hand from Thursday morning.

5:05pm - New Zealand Rugby is continuing to work through the impact of the Government’s COVID-19 announcement on this weekend’s final round of Super Rugby Aotearoa matches, including the possibility of playing with "significant" crowd restrictions.

The governing body says that, as it stands currently with Auckland at Level 3, the Blues, Crusaders game could not be played, while the Highlanders, Hurricanes game at Level 2 could still go ahead, but with limited attendance.

"All our decision-making will be guided by the Government advice," says NZR general manager of professional rugby and performance Chris Lendrum.  

"We will wait to see if there will be any changes to Alert Levels in Auckland and around the country for this weekend and beyond. We are all awaiting the next Government update with interest.

"In the meantime, we are preparing prudent contingency plans around playing the Highlanders-Hurricanes game with significant crowd restrictions."

4:05pm - Despite initial plans to cancel them, Newshub understands that, at this stage, both of the remaining Super Rugby Aotearoa matches will go ahead this weekend.

NZ Rugby will wait for further government advice before cancelling or delaying, with several contingency plans being worked through.

2:42pm - NZ Rugby has reminded Auckland teams that no community rugby activities take place in the region under COVID-19 Alert Level 3, including games, training and workshops.

That includes Auckland-based teams contesting Northland and Counties Manukau competitions.

Rugby activities can still proceed under Alert Level 2 around the rest of the country, provided all restrictions are observed, including mass gathering (100 people maximum), contact tracing and hygiene protocols.

"Individual provincial unions will determine whether those guidelines are able to be met for this weekend’s rugby, and will communicate directly with their respective clubs and schools."

2:05pm - Netball NZ has confirmed the cancellation of the final round of ANZ Premiership games, scheduled for this weekend.

With all playoff spots already decided, the matches have been declared draws.

"Decisions like these are never easy to make, but we felt it was in the best interest of safety and equity for all teams that we didn’t contest the last round," says Netball NZ chief executive Jennie Wyllie.

"There was no material impact on the placings heading into the ANZ Premiership final series, so it made sense to declare these games drawn. We have been fortunate to play as many weeks of netball, in front of live crowds, for as long as we have.

"But now is the time for us to play our part in keeping the country safe and we will be reviewing future decisions over the coming days." 

Games cancelled are:

Friday - Nothern Mystics v Northern Stars in Auckland

Saturday - Northern Mystics v Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in Auckland

Sunday - Southern Steel v Mainland Tactix in Dunedin, Central Pulse v Northern Stars in Wellington

Monday - Central Pulse v Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in Wellington

Champions Pulse and the Tactix have already secured their spots in the Grand Final in Invercargill on August 23, although that fixture will be reviewed as the coronavirus situation develops.

12:22pm - NZ Thoroughbred Racing will proceed with its scheduled meetings at Taupo today and Waverley on Friday, but behind closed doors.

"This is a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of our industry participants," it says. "We will also be reintroducing contact tracing, temperature checking, social distancing and reminders to use hand sanitiser. 

"Any decision regarding attendance at the Riccarton meeting on Saturday and the Ruakaka meeting, now scheduled for Sunday, will be made once there is more clarification from Government."

NZTR has also postponed a series of regional roadshows in the South Island this week.

11:28am - The Obsidian 'Big Air' competition at Winter Games NZ will proceed today, but Cordrona Alpine Resort is closed to the public. 

"Obviously the move to COVID Level 2 overnight means we're doing things a little bit differently," says Winter Games chief executive Marty Toomey.

"But we've planned for this - it's one of the contingencies, we've worked on - so we're just operating to keep absolutely everyone on the hill safe." 

11:22am - School Sport NZ has made the following statement...

"With the Prime Minister announcing a return to Covid Alert Level 3 in Auckland and Level 2 for the rest of NZ, schools, along with sport bodies will be working to develop their specific responses.

"The sudden announcement will cause some uncertainty and anxiety in relation to school sport events and, as previously, please play it safe, as decisions are taken and plans put in place.

At School Sport NZ, we are working with our event partners and NSOs to determine any impact on events planned in the next few days and weeks, and as the situation becomes clear, we will make announcements around events on the national calendar of sanctioned events.

Your regional school sport bodies, through RSDs, will be following a similar process.

This is a fluid situation at the moment and SportNZ advise they are consulting with Government colleagues to get more clarity today. At this stage, they are unsure what this will mean from an organised sport and physical activity perspective, but as soon as we have more information and confirmation of important aspects from Government, we will update this notice."

10:27am - The Blues have issued the following statement...

"The Blues, along with fellow Super Rugby Aotearoa partners and NZ Rugby, are currently assessing the impact of both the Blues-Crusaders and Highlanders-Hurricanes games, with the move to COVID-19 Level 3 in Auckland and the rest of the country to Level 2.

"NZR is in close and constant dialogue with Government, and we will pass on more information when we have it.

"We are working through all the numerous scenarios and will probably be in a better position to comment with more clarity tomorrow [Thursday].

"The players and staff are now based at their homes awaiting updates, ensuring they are meeting all health and tracing requirements to keep safe.

"We are busy this morning readying our facility for shutdown as per Level 3 requirements and cleaning gym equipment, which will be dispersed around players, so they can continue to train and prepare for our final game."

10:24am - NZ Rugby sources have told Newshub's Ollie Ritchie, several contingencies are being worked through, including potentially delaying games until next week.

9:54am - NZ Rugby sources suggest the Blues v Crusaders Super Rugby Aotearoa finale is "unlikely" to go ahead on Sunday.


Sunday's blockbuster finale to Super Rugby Aotearoa is in doubt, with Auckland returning to COVID-19 Alert Level 3.

The Government has announced that Auckland will go back into lockdown at midday Wednesday, after four positive cases of the coronavirus were discovered in one south Auckland family.

The rest of the country will move into Alert Level 2.

The Government hopes to lift the alert levels at midnight Friday, but that could change, if further transmission is discovered.

The Blues are set to host the newly crowned Super Rugby Aotearoa champion Crusaders in front of a sell-out crowd at Eden Park.

Under alert level protocols,  the game would not be played if the city stays at Level 3, while the Hurricanes v Highlanders clash on Saturday could be played without spectators at Level 2.

NZ Rugby has reacted quickly, releasing the following statement: "NZR is currently assessing the impact on rugby, following the Government announcement that Auckland will tomorrow move to COVID-19 Level 3 and the rest of the country to Level 2.

"NZR is in close and constant dialogue with the Government and a further update will be given tomorrow [Wednesday]."

Netball's ANZ Premiership would also be affected, with the Auckland derby between Northern Mystics and Northern Stars on Friday night unlikely to be played.

The Mystics are then scheduled to play their final game of the competition on Saturday against Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic.

Several other games are scheduled for Dunedin and Wellington on the weekend, but with finalists already confirmed, NZ Netball may postpones or cancel the games.

Finals day is set for August 23 in Invercargill, with Central Pulse and Mainland Tactix to face off in the Grand Final.

Winter Games NZ are due to hold their Big Air competition on Wednesday, one of five challenges over the event, but Cardrona skifields are now closed to the public and organisers are reassessing their scheduled over coming days.

School and club sport around the country is also in doubt this weekend, with gatherings limited to 100 people under Alert Level 2 and community sport only returning under Alert Level 1.