This general view shows an empty Sky Stadium due to the Covid-19 restrictions during the third Twenty20 cricket match between New Zealand and Australia in Wellington on March 3, 2021. AFP
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ordered Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city and the centre of the outbreak, into a seven-day lockdown from Sunday
A community coronavirus outbreak in Auckland has forced New Zealand cricket bosses to hastily reschedule two Twenty20 matches against Australia as other affected sports assessed their options.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ordered Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city and the centre of the outbreak, into a seven-day lockdown from Sunday, requiring people to stay at home except for essential shopping and work.
The remainder of the country faces Level Two restrictions which limit the size of public gatherings.
A New Zealand Cricket spokesman said the third match in the current T20 series, to be played in Wellington on Wednesday, will go ahead but without spectators.
Game four, scheduled for Auckland on Friday, has been moved to Wellington and, again, will be played behind closed doors.
The spokesman said they would wait for government advice on whether crowd restrictions are to be lifted before deciding if there will be spectators at the final game of the series in Tauranga on Sunday, March 7.
Sport is not allowed under Level Three and Ardern’s snap decision meant it was unlikely the start of the America’s Cup final between holders Team New Zealand and Italian challengers Luna Rossa would go ahead on March 6.
“America’s Cup Event Ltd is reviewing the situation and will be working with the Authorities and relevant agencies over the next few days to work through the implications,” the sailing tournament’s organisers said in a statement following news of the Auckland lockdown.
“Further updates to come.”
In Super Rugby Aotearoa, the Waikato Chiefs play the Otago Highlanders in Hamilton on Friday, while the Canterbury Crusaders host the Wellington Hurricanes on Saturday with both matches presumably in empty stadiums.
The Auckland Blues celebrated beating the Wellington Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday and then faced the prospect of finding a new short-term home.
Although they have a bye next week, coach Leon MacDonald said if they returned to Auckland, they would not be allowed to train