So, although tinged with huge disappointment for all concerned, it perhaps should be no surprise that the Youth America’s Cup has been cancelled. Seems that the New Zealand Government department feel it is all right for the adults to come in, but not the kids.
I’m a bit close to the fire on this one so I left it overnight before sitting down at the keyboard. Nobody wins on this one, the organisers, the young athletes, many of whom have already been in training for months, the viewing public even us on the media though we are the least of those affected.
My biggest concern is the complete lack of understanding of the event by the New Zealand government department, the MBIE reportedly stated that New Zealanders could perform the sailing roles for the international teams. Clearly absolutely no comprehension of the concept of the event the YOUTH America’s Cup with all but one team adhering to the nationality rules of the competition.
There are (were) 19 entries from 13 nations so hardly struggling for entries. It is not new, it has been done before also in IDENTICAL boats – could he imagine the costs if every team had to design and build their own? If the author knew absolutely anything about the America’s Cup it has always been about “ridiculous excesses” excesses spent by either team owners or sponsors who could afford to do so. I get it now, perhaps all he has got is a 4 kt shitbox and it is just a case of jealousy)
Anyway, back to where I was – people have been quick to jump on the bandwagon and in some cases blowing things out of all proportion. One predictably lame website started with the headline “Kiwi government cancels Youth America’s Cup”. The reality is that the relevant government department didn’t feel the event was high profile enough to grant exemptions to the entry restrictions which have given New Zealand one of the lowest COVID-19 impacts of any nation. So although the government ruling means the teams come into New Zealand the government did not actually cancel the event but the safety of their population must surely take priority.
It has also to be said that may teams have already committed that they would – at their own expense – quarantine for 14 days on arrival in New Zealand. What more could they do? That same site goes on to use the past tense in that “The event WAS a collaboration….” while it has already been stated that once restrictions are lifted the hope would be to run the even tin the future.
It has even been suggested by some that the event could be run elsewhere where COVID-19 restrictions are less restrictive. Not likely, that would be like the British Grand Prix in motor racing holding their support events in at Hockenheim or Watkins Glen and at the same time. Not only would this mean the young sailors would not be part of the same circus, but the event would likely only be covered by local media or second string journalist of the mainstream.
And the Youth America’s Cup it most certainly wouldn’t be. Talk about taking the time, effort and commitment of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron with the support of Emirates Team New Zealand, not to mention the financial support of the sponsors, China Sports Industry Group and saying “Thanks very much, we’ll have that”.
Looking at the bigger picture, the financial circus that includes the America’s Cup, the Youth America’s Cup and the Superyacht Cup and the expected financial return to Auckland and New Zealand must be looking a little shakier than it dd 48 hours ago. The cost of the infrastructure of The Cup (money already spent) was on the back of the expected financial return of the event. SO if the kids are not being allowed in, who is to say that the superyacht crews will not face similar barriers.
And what of the expected (well formerly expected) multitude of international spectators arriving to see the events live in Auckland. Will they even be allowed to visit, will there be sufficient flights to New Zealand, certainly there should be enough hotel rooms given the current state of play.
Don’t get me wrong, I sympathise with both sides of the equation. Going forward should ETNZ successfully defend The Cup it could be somewhat more challenging to gain government financial support in the future should the returns not be there this time. As it is The Cup stands as one of only a few major sporting events not to have set the clock back by one year.
Challenging times indeed and I, for one, am glad it is not me that is having to make these sorts of
major decisions. – Shanghai Sailor