New Zealand’s Prime Minister To Decide If Short Course Meet Is A National Championship

Elwanda Tulloch

New Zealand’s Prime Minister To Decide If Short Course Meet Is A National Championship By Dave Crampton (Contributor) Swimming New Zealand has said that its Aon 2020 NZ Short Course Championships will have no National titles awarded unless the country’s largest city has its Covid-19 alert levels changed by the Government. The […]

New Zealand’s Prime Minister To Decide If Short Course Meet Is A National Championship

By Dave Crampton (Contributor)

Swimming New Zealand has said that its Aon 2020 NZ Short Course Championships will have no National titles awarded unless the country’s largest city has its Covid-19 alert levels changed by the Government.

The country’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is to announce any changes to Auckland’s alert levels on October 5, to take effect from 11:59pm on October 7.

It follows outrage from swimmers in New Zealand’s biggest city who were furious that they had been excluded from the country’s  premier short course championships, initially planned to be held in their city, Auckland.

The meet, now moved to Hamilton, starts in between the proposed announcement, on October 6, so Swimming New Zealand will know the decision before the start of the meet.

The five-day  Aon 2020 NZ Short Course Championships, was moved to Hamilton, the nearest main centre south of Auckland, due to Covid-19 Alert Level restrictions.

And in further news, some Auckland swimmers may now be given the opportunity to race in Auckland, while the city is in Alert Level 2 for the first two days of the meet. It is unclear if these swimmers will be able to continue to race in Auckland should the city change to Alert Level 1, or whether they will be forced to race in Hamilton for national titles.

Swimmers who are travelling to Hamilton and arrive a day or two before the meet will not know if they are contesting national titles until they arrive in Hamilton.

Auckland swimmers won’t know until the day before the meet if they are eligible to compete.

New Zealand is at two different alert levels.

Auckland is at Alert Level 2, where residents cannot be in groups of more than 100 anywhere in the country.

The rest of the country is on Alert Level 1, where there are no such restrictions.

Just after entries closed, Swimming New Zealand announced that the Hamilton City Council had decided that no more than 100 from Auckland – including coaches and team managers – could attend each session of the championships.

Swimming New Zealand then released the meet psych sheets – without any Auckland swimmers listed.

“Auckland swimmers will no longer be able to compete at the event while Auckland is under a Level 2 restriction,” Swimming NZ CEO Steve Johns said in a statement, published on the Swimming World site yesterday.

Initially Prime Minister  Ardern and Health Minister Chris Hipkins had both recommended that Aucklanders should take their alert level restrictions with them which effectively excluded Aucklanders from the meet while at Level 2.

Questions were being asked yesterday whether Swimming New Zealand decided to ignore government guidelines, until forced not to, infuriating swimmers who have booked travel and accommodation and now cannot compete at the Nationals.

“This is absolutely disgusting. It should be cancelled completely – it is no longer a National meet when you are excluding 213 swimmers,” Monique Judd said on Swimming NZs facebook page.

The government will update alert information in October.

“With the government updating Auckland’s Alert Level on Monday October 5 and the likelihood that Auckland’s Level restriction will drop to Level 1 at 11:59pm on Wednesday 7 October, Aucklanders will be welcome to  compete… from Thursday onwards,” the Swimming New Zealand statement said.

The Government has indicated that the October 5 announcement may  be an adjustment into Level 2 crowd sizes, or an adjustment in alert levels, moving Auckland to Alert level 1.

“Swimming New Zealand is extremely disappointed that we have been forced to make the difficult decision to not permit swimmers from Auckland in the Auckland City boundary  whilst the Auckland region remains in Level 2 restrictions,” Mr Johns said.

The Auckland Swimming community is fuming.

“Stripping the Auckland swimmers of their chances and all their hard work. it’s clear the people making decisions in there aren’t fit for the job,” Ryan Hawes said on Swimming New Zealand’s facebook page.

“Why not let the Aucklanders swim in Auckland and combine the times?” Susan Hunter suggested.

Even if Auckland does go to level 1 later in the championships that would not suit all swimmers.

“Breastrokers will miss out on the 50m and 100m breaststroke as they are on days one and two,” Philip Ryan said.

Initially Aucklanders were to be housed in marquees in groups of 100 and could not enter the venue unless they were competing.

Coaches were to be banned from pool deck and would have to coach via a live stream.

The plots thicken….watch this space…

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