Coronavirus hits NZ sport: Blackcaps v Australia moved out of Auckland, America's Cup start in doubt

With Auckland back to alert level 3, here are some changes in the upcoming sporting schedule.

America's Cup racing postponed

The first weekend of America's Cup racing between Emirates Team NZ and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli has been officially postponed.

The teams were scheduled to start their battle for the Auld Mug in Auckland on Saturday and Sunday, but those opening races have now been pushed back until March 10 at the earliest.

Organisers will also apply for a Government exemption to race at level 3.

"As ACE has always said that it wishes to hold as much of the racing under level 1 restrictions as possible," says America's Cup Events Ltd chairman Tina Symmans.

"But to be prudent, ACE will apply for an exemption to race under Level 3 restrictions so as to keep as many options open as possible.

"However, racing will not occur before at least Wednesday, March 10.”

Organisers have also confirmed that the Cup Village at Viaduct Harbour is closed.

Racing is possible at level 2 with crowd restrictions, but the event would need the exemption to have any chance of proceeding at level 3.

Blackcaps v Australia Twenty20 series moved

The Blackcaps have confirmed that their T20 series against Australia will continue under the new COVID-19 Alert Level changes.  

After the announcement on Saturday evening that Auckland will move into Level 3, New Zealand Cricket confirmed changes to the current series. 

The Blackcaps are moving out of Auckland.
The Blackcaps are moving out of Auckland. Photo credit: Getty

The doubleheader including that Blackcaps and White Ferns on Wednesday at Sky Stadium in Wellington will continue as planned, but with no crowd. 

The fourth T20 on Friday at Eden Park will now be shifted to the capital and also be played with no crowd. 

The final game of the series in Tauranga will continue as planned but at this stage is expected to be without crowds.

The Kiwi's currently lead the five game series 2-0 after a comprehensive victory in Christchurch and a tight victory in Dunedin.

Blues left in limbo

The Blues are now looking for a temporary base to relocate to, having been stranded in Wellington after their win over the Hurricanes on Saturday night.

Coach Leon MacDonald says the team won't head home, as they cannot train under level 3.

"We'll have to find a new home that can house us and give us what we need to train," MacDonald says.  

"We'll look at all our options, whether we head to Hamilton or stay in Wellington, I'm not sure yet. We'll look at a place that can become our home for the short term.

"They [players] definitely are [on board]. With the first lockdown a few weeks ago we were ready to go if we were able to, and now we’re out of the city it makes sense that we keep alive in the competition.

The Blues are looking for a new home.
The Blues are looking for a new home. Photo credit: Getty

"If we have to do a whole week sitting in our houses then that’s going to put us behind the eight-ball."

The Blues have a fortuitously timed bye next weekend, which helps their cause. Their next game is against the Highlanders at Eden Park on March 14.

Hurricanes chief executive Avan lee sympathises with ther Blues' situation, saying they'll be willing to help out with training facilities in the Wellington area, should they choose to stay.

"We know it’s tough for them and their families,' says Lee. "I've already spoken to a couple of them and said 'whatever you need, if we can help we will'. 

"We wouldn't have the capacity for them at our place but there’s plenty of opportunity here. 

"I know they were looking at Cambridge a couple of weeks ago so I’m not sure what’s in their thinking but they are considering staying. It's a pretty big upheaval for them."

Blues players and staff have undergone COVID-19 tests and won't leave the area until those results are returned.

Next weekend's Highlanders v Chiefs game in Dunedin and Crusaders v Hurricanes game in Christchurch will likely both be played without a crowd.

Athletics national champs called off

New Zealand's track and field championships in Hastings on March 5-7 have been called off, due to the move to alert level 3.

With Auckland contributing a huge chunk of the competitors, numbers restrictions have made the event impossible.

"We are aware this will cause great disappointment among the athletes, their families and supporters but it is unfortunately not possible to hold an event of this size under the new alert level restrictions," says Athletics NZ chief executive Peter Pfitzinger.

"We are currently considering all options in terms of the hosting of these championships and will provide an update as soon as possible."

Silver Ferns set to go crowdless for Constellation Cup

The Silver Ferns host Australia in a four-test series, with the first two games to be played in Christchurch on March 2 and 3.

Those will now likely be played without a crowd.

The final two games in Tauranga are scheduled for March 6 and 7, and it seems only the final test will be able to be played in front of a crowd at Baypark Arena.

Netball NZ avoided scheduling any games in Auckland due to the risk of moving into alert level 3.

No crowds will feature on the first three Constellation Cup tests.
No crowds will feature on the first three Constellation Cup tests. Photo credit: Getty