Cricket: Women's World Cup organisers adamant tournament will be held in New Zealand regardless of COVID-19 situation

Even with New Zealand at the red traffic light setting of the COVID-19 response framework, organisers emphasise that the Women's Cricket World Cup will go ahead next month.

Beginning on March 4, New Zealand is hosting the 2022 Cricket World Cup, seeing eight teams travel to Aotearoa hoping to win the biggest prize in the game.

But as with any major event over the past two years, the shadow of COVID-19 hangs over the World Cup, not helped by New Zealand's nationwide shift to the red light earlier this week.

Despite the move to red, New Zealand Minister for Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson on Sunday declared that the World Cup can go ahead, assuring organisers had planned for this exact situation.

"The Women's World Cup is going ahead," chief executive Andrea Nelson reiterates.

"The first team arrived this week, there's staff already on the ground. We're all systems go for the first match, in Tauranga on March 4.

"Obviously, the recent announcements are changing some of the ways that we deliver that, but we're well advanced in our plans to make it happen."

Arguably, the biggest concern for the tournament's organisers will revolve around spectators, and having to cap limits on how many people can attend a given match at a time.

At red light, up to 100 vaccinated people can attend events, with that number reduced to 25 if unvaccinated.

Minister Robertson on Sunday confirmed an expansion on that for an outdoor sporting event, with groups of 100 permitted inside the same venue if separated.

And for Nelson, while the hope will be that New Zealand has moved to the orange light by the time the tournament begins, fan involvement extends to much more than simply inside the stadium.

Amy Satterthwaite, Sir Richard Hadlee and Lea Tahuhu with the Women's Cricket World Cup trophy.
Amy Satterthwaite, Sir Richard Hadlee and Lea Tahuhu with the Women's Cricket World Cup trophy. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

"It's 35 days until the opening match, it's 66 days until the final. If [there's] one thing we've learned over the past two years, it's that change is constant.

"We're keeping the door open to bringing as many spectators as we can, safely under government guidance, into our stadia.

"But it's not just inside the stadia, we're looking at what we can be doing with schools, bringing people up to date with the tournament, working with our media partners to really tell the stories.

"This tournament is bigger than just the match inside the event, and we'll be looking forward to telling that story."

The World Cup won't be the first major cricketing event staged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, the UAE successfully hosted the men's Twenty20 World Cup, with that standard giving Nelson confidence of a similar outcome for New Zealand's tournament from next month.

"We're really lucky as the ICC have done this before, they've done a whole lot of events globally, we have international experts with us to put protocols in place.

"We'll be sharing those protocols prior to the event - I'm not in a position today to share them. But we'll have protocols in place to keep those teams, match officials, our staff, our volunteers and the public safe."