Minister of Sport Grant Robertson has revealed that there will be no sport played in New Zealand at alert level 3.
The Government is currently preparing for a decision on whether to end the nationwide level 4 lockdown on Thursday, with a decision due on Monday as to whether the country will move to level 3.
When asked about clarity for when sports competitions will be able to resume, Robertson said at level 3 there’s no scope for sports but at level 2 there was more work to establish what was possible.
“At level 3 there really isn’t the scope for that. At level 3 we want people to stay in their bubbles still. I know a number of our professional athletes are training hard inside their own bubble,” Robertson said.
“When it comes to level 2 there is further work to do there as to what might be possible in terms of particularly contact sport at a professional level. That requires conversations with health officials and with sports clubs.
“Clearly myself as a sports fan and many others around the country would love to see that take place but that certainly won’t be happening at level 3.”
Robertson is also sceptical of the NRL’s plans to resume its season.
The NRL has continued to push for a resumption of the competition, which reports suggest will be based in New South Wales with a targeted start date of May 28.
However, plans to include the Warriors have been put on hold with the New Zealand club’s flight to Australia being delayed, putting the league’s start date in further doubt.
Robertson said he hasn’t been involved in any discussion with the NRL but the start date sounded “very ambitious”.
“Personally I haven’t been involved in any discussions about that,” Robertson said when asked about the NRL’s plans to resume the season on May 28.
“I believe there may have been some high-level discussions between some people working on behalf of the NRL and Sport New Zealand.
“That sounds like a very ambitious date to me to start a competition up. And no doubt there’s a lot to work through on both sides of the Tasman about how that would work.
“Clearly both sides of the Tasman are operating strict quarantine arrangements at the moment and therefore that provides some real limitations on the ability of people to travel and spend time in such situations.”
The Warriors are reportedly not expected to travel to Australia until meeting the NRL again on Monday, which is when the Government makes their further announcements about travel restrictions and lockdown measures.
However, as reported by the New Zealand Herald yesterday, the NRL has floated a new work-around for the Warriors which could see them training in a self-contained facility while serving their 14-day isolation period in Australia, rather than being confined to hotel rooms.
If that proposal comes to fruition, that would take the pressure off the Auckland club to get across to Australia, while also leaving the May 28 restart as a possibility.
Robertson insisted that the NRL’s plans, especially with the inclusion of the Warriors, sounded ambitious to him.
“I did hear yesterday that the other NRL clubs had said that they wanted to make sure that the Warriors had the opportunity to undertake pre-season training once they got to Australia if that’s where they got to,” Robertson said. “So if you think about that in terms of the timeline, it’s pretty ambitious.
“I think overall, the principal that we continue to have to apply is public health and safety. And that applies as much to people who are professional sportspeople as it does to anybody else.”
The ability to accommodate families in Australia during the NRL season has also been a major question from Warriors players, who face the possibility of being away from families for up to six months if they are to fly across the Tasman for the league’s resumption.