- Publish Date
- Thursday, 7 May 2020, 2:08PM
The Government has confirmed that professional sports will be back under Covid-19 alert level 2.
Sport and recreation minister Grant Robertson says professional sports will be able to resume domestically when the country moves to level 2 with the necessary public health measures in place.
"Moving to alert level 2 continues to expand the opportunities for sport and recreation and reintroduces the opportunity for competitive sport – both at a local and professional level," Robertson said.
"Obviously, the paramount concern is that a return to competitive sport is done safely. This means ensuring there are systems in place to implement public health measures such as contact tracing and hygiene requirements to create a safe environment."
This will mean some modifications to training, play and competition will be necessary, the minister said.
Sport NZ is working with the major sporting codes and WorkSafe on how these are put into practice.
The rules around mass gatherings still apply, so sports will be played at empty stadiums.
Super Rugby and the ANZ Premiership have confirmed their intention to resume domestic competition at alert level 2 and are working through what a return to training and competition will look like.
"Some sports will be able to return to play more quickly than others while the necessary health requirements, modifications and restrictions on non-essential inter-regional travel are worked through," Robertson said.
"Sports bodies are putting in a lot of work to get the pro-sport leagues going. But let me be clear that competitions will only start when all the public health guidelines are met, so we will continue to support these sports as they work through the necessary requirements to resume play safely."
NZ Rugby boss Mark Robinson said details about the domestic Super Rugby competition will be confirmed once the country moves into level 2.
"For our fans, our players and everyone involved in Super Rugby, we are thrilled that the sports ,minister has given the green light for professional sport to resume at level two," said Robinson.
"Both netball and rugby have been working closely with Government agencies on what training and playing at level two could look like, and we are incredibly grateful for their support.
"As soon as the country announces what date we move to alert level two, we will be able to confirm what date Super Rugby will kick off."
Super Rugby Aotearoa will involve New Zealand's five teams - the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders.
The five teams will play each other home and away over 10 weeks, with two matches every weekend. All matches will be played in closed stadiums.
Netball NZ chief executive Jennie Wyllie said they were delighted to be given permission to move forward with the return of the country's domestic netball competition.
"Both netball and rugby have been working closely with the Government on what training and playing at level two could look like, and a return to play plan for the ANZ Premiership will be underway once the Government confirms the country is ready to move to level two," she said.
"We have always said we will take the Government's lead on when it is safe to return and now our focus turns to ensuring we have a safe environment for that to happen."
The Government today announced outlined what a move to level 2 would look like, which will include re-opening of public parks and recreational sports facilities.
Cabinet will consider the evidence about moving to level 2 on Monday, with the latest Covid-19 data.
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission