Tennis: ASB Classic cancelled for second-straight year because of COVID-19 complications

Tennis Auckland officials have confirmed the cancellation of the 2022 ASB Classic. 

The announcement is an enormous blow for the one of the most popular international events on the New Zealand sporting calendar, after it was also cancelled this year, due to complications arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of the same challenges that forced the cancellation of this year's tournament remain. Newshub understands MBIE has rejected a request by tournament officials for international players to secure places in managed isolation before the tournament, scheduled for January. 

Moving the tournament's position on the international calendar and holding the Auckland tournament after the Australian Open was also considered, but recent examples have shown the trans-Tasman bubble is fragile and risks associated with this plan were simply too great. 

When asked earlier this week whether cancellation was imminent, Tennis New Zealand chief executive Julie Paterson directed enquiries to Tennis Auckland chairman Simon Vannini, who did not return calls on the matter.

On Wednesday afternoon, Tennis Auckland board chairman Vannini said he was disappointed that the ASB Classic was not able to return in 2022, but was confident tennis in New Zealand wouldn't suffer.

"We are incredibly disappointed that we won’t be able to bring the ASB Classic back to Auckland this summer, but current immigration and quarantine requirements mean it’s just not feasible," Vannini says.

"We are working closely with Tennis NZ on some alternative ideas that we think will keep tennis fans excited and we will continue to ensure tennis remains one of New Zealand’s favourite sports."

A Sport NZ spokesperson says the event "did not meet the threshold for securing places in MIQ, outside the standard allocations".

"Sport NZ has had several discussions with Tennis NZ regarding the possibility of NZ hosting the ASB Tennis Classic in 2022, and the associated Managed Isolation Quarantine requirements and related border exemptions.

"There is very high demand for border exemptions and MIQ places, and the request was for a group allocation with bespoke training requirements.

"The threshold for securing places outside the standard MIQ allocation process for non-New Zealanders to enter New Zealand is set high and this event did not meet that threshold."