Dubai: Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) revealed that its preparations for the 36th America’s Cup will continue under COVID-19 alert despite the Mayor of Auckland ruling that major events would only go ahead if it was safe to do so.
New Zealand’s largest city is due to host the prestigious sailing competition - first staged in 1851 - from March 6 to 21, 2021. The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has suggested that there will be strict rules in place, with a possible ban on international media being considered to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.
A build-up to the event is scheduled to start in about four months’ time with the last of the America’s Cup World Series events scheduled to be held in Auckland in December this year.
The series to decide the Cup Challenger would be due to follow in January before the event officially starts in March.
A spokesperson for ETNZ was quoted by Radio New Zealand that the defending champions of the Cup (called the Defender) having won it it in San Francisco in 2017, claimed that dates for the event were fixed and would not change.
“The ultimate decision on the America’s Cup lies with the defender Emirates Team New Zealand, as the America’s Cup rights holder,” read a statement from the team.
“The event management arm continues to look at all event scenarios at all levels and will adapt as required,” the statement has added.
Two of the four America’s Cup teams have so far been based in Auckland.
New York Yacht Club challenger ‘American Magic’ have also added that they have been in regular consultation with ETNZ to keep up to date with the best ways of training.
MBIE manager of New Zealand major events Susan Sawbridge admitted that media coverage was important, but was still uncertain about lifting border restrictions for foreign media.
“Until those applications are received, and decisions are made about whether international media will be able to enter New Zealand, it’s too early to talk about any potential impacts on the event,” Sawbridge said.
“The bar for being granted an exception to the border restrictions is set high to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of people already in New Zealand,” she added.
New Zealand has so far done a good job at containing the coronavirus pandemic. However, recently its daily cases have pushed into double figures again.