10 March 2020
With the Covid-19 virus continuing to escalate across Europe, Hockey New Zealand has decided to postpone a trip by the Vantage Black Sticks Men and Women’s teams to play FIH Pro League games in the Netherlands and Germany.
Hockey New Zealand Chief Executive Ian Francis said the organisation had consulted with medical advisors, High Performance Sport New Zealand, other hockey nations and the teams themselves as it worked towards the decision.
“We have been closely monitoring the situation in Europe, and after the latest updates from the Ministry of Health and TravelSafe, our teams’ Medical Directors have determined that the risk is too great for our players and management to travel safely at this stage,” said Ian Francis Chief Executive of Hockey New Zealand.
The FIH has recently postponed matches in China, while Hockey Australia over the weekend have announced they are suspending all international travel until further notice.
FIH CEO Thierry Weil said: “Our reaction is no different to what we have expressed when Hockey Australia took a similar decision, and we do understand Hockey New Zealand’s stance. Together with all participating National Associations, we will look at every available option to play this year’s FIH Hockey Pro League matches, while monitoring the global evolution of the situation closely, following the recommendations of the World Health Organization and placing the health of all stakeholders involved as priority. Therefore, in line with our previous decisions for matches involving China and Australia, we’ve decided to put the planned matches of New Zealand in the Netherlands and Germany on hold.”
The Vantage Black Sticks Women were due to fly out on Wednesday ahead of their opening fixture against the Netherlands on 19 March, while the men were scheduled to fly out on Friday ahead of their matches against the Netherlands and Germany.
Hockey New Zealand’s High-Performance Director Paul MacKinnon commented “The decision to not send the teams for the European Pro League matches has not been taken lightly, however we must prioritise the health and safety of our athletes, staff and their families. In doing this, we concluded that the health and logistical risks for a touring party of over 50 people have become too great to manage safely and effectively”.
“While the games against these top European sides were an essential part of the Olympic build-up, we have already begun working on alternative plans to ensure that our teams have the best possible preparation for Tokyo.
Hockey New Zealand will decide at a later date around the FIH Hockey Pro League matches in late May where the Black Sticks are scheduled to play Australia and India.