New Zealand’s sports ministry on May 7 reportedly said that the country could approve the restart of professional sport as early as next week once the authorities decide whether to ease COVID-19 restrictions further. While the New Zealand officials are yet to decide whether to move the country from ‘Level 3’ to ‘Level 2’. Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson reportedly said that professional sports would be able to resume domestically when authorities lower the country’s virus alert level down a notch.
While addressing speaking to international media reporters, Robertson said that 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. He added, however, the paramount concern is that a return to competitive sport is done safely. If authorities approve the restart of professional sport, the county will probably become the world’s first major rugby nation to resume playing the sport at an elite level.
The New Zealand Rugby (NZR) Chief Executive, Mark Robinson reportedly said that the association was ‘thrilled’ and had plans for 10 rounds of domestic games for the country’s Super Rugby teams, however, due to the unprecedented coronavirus outbreak, the team had been sitting idle since the season was suspended on March. Robinson also explained that if the announcement of resuming the sport is announced, the five teams will play each other home and away over 10 weeks, with two matches every weekend. He added that all matches will be played in a closed stadium.
Meanwhile, New Zealand recently recorded zero cases of the novel coronavirus in the country that indicated bold and drastic containment strategies that led to the elimination of the COVID-19 disease in the region, reports confirmed. With a death toll as low as 20, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield announced that New Zealand has witnessed no additional virus-related fatalities since March 16.
With several social restrictions in place, New Zealand eased the ‘strict’ lockdown to stem the rate of transmission and death rate, late last week. While the offices, schools, shopping malls, restaurants, gyms, and other public premises and recreational centres resumed, millions of New Zealanders continued isolation, stay-at-home orders, and worked from home, according to local media reports. However, Bloomfield warned that the New Zealanders had to adjust in the ‘new norms’ despite the ease of containment measures to ensure that the second-wave did not hit the country while speaking at a COVID-19 press conference.