New Zealand gearing up to host Women’s World Cup amidst rising Omicron Concerns

The excitement is building up and the last sets of preparation are speeding up as we are just 2 months away from the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup. Commencing the packed sports calendar for New Zealand with Women’s Rugby and Football World Cups scheduled following Cricket, The White Ferns are geared up to host the best teams of Women’s cricket from March 4.

 

Women's World Cup 2021 Trophy
Women’s World Cup 2022 Trophy

 

Initially scheduled to be held last year, the World Cup was pushed ahead by Covid-19 whose scare still hasn’t gone away with a new variant Omicron rising rapidly. As a result, the eight-team tournament made the organizing committee put in additional efforts in order to ensure that all Covid protocols are followed and the race to the big title doesn’t turn into a super spreader.

A report by stuff.co.nz shared an update about the preparations, safety measures as well as allowance of the crowd to the stadium.

As said by Women’s Cricket World Cup chief executive Andrea Nelson in the report, the major challenge for the organizing committee has been the uncertainty due to the pandemic since March 2020 and the sudden increase in Omicron has only raised the concern further. Having said that, she credits the country’s government for its support in getting plans ready for every circumstance that might arise and is confident to have a safe and successful tournament following all Covid protocols – Masks, Social Distancing, Minimising close contact situations, a complete list of which would be released prior to the tournament.

Covid Test
Strict Covid Protocols in place ahead of the Mega World Cup event

 

Further, Nelson also mentioned that they have observed and learned from a couple of big tournaments which have successfully taken place in the past few months including the Men’s T20I World Cup in UAE and Australia’s Women Big Bash League.

“I guess if you look at the way other tournaments have operated, we have protocols in place to prevent [an outbreak] happening to a large degree – keeping everyone safe, appropriate masking, social distancing and that sort of thing,”. Nelson said.

Adding, “That’s the first focus. Then there will be a process in place with the ICC to make any decision if there was a more significant situation [like a team outbreak ahead of the final].”

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Talking about the arrival of the seven teams, Nelson said that a 10-day isolation period is mandatory and so, the committee is working with the teams to finalize their arrival dates. It is to be noted that India visits New Zealand a month before the tournament as they are scheduled to play a T20I and five ODIs with the White Ferns from February 9, a series that ends a week prior to the big tournament.

 

India snatch a victory against England in 2nd T20I at Hove
India snatch a victory against England in 2nd T20I at Hove

 

Above all this, what has come as a great delight for many is that in accordance with the country’s Covid-19 protection framework (traffic light system), there isn’t a restriction on the crowd in the stadium but showing a vaccination certificate/pass is mandatory. However, with the pandemic still not over and border restrictions in place, overseas fans won’t be able to support their team from the stands. Having said that, Nelson shared that the committee is working towards gathering the local fans of the respective countries especially India, and creating a home crowd for them there itself.

She said, “For some time Covid has been around so the framework we’ve been building locally, finding the local fans that support those teams to create a home crowd for them here in New Zealand. We’re really excited with the Indian community and more recently having Pakistan, West Indies, and Bangladesh qualify, we’re working with the local communities to bring in that support.”

“This is the environment we’re operating in. Absolutely, we’re confident we’re doing everything we can to create a safe environment for everyone taking part in the event. We’re learning from the best and we’ll be working at it right up until the finish.

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Further adding, The year-long postponement of the tournament had offered a silver lining with female-friendly changing room facilities at all venues, the lights up and running at Christchurch’s Hagley Oval, the venue for the April 3 final, and further time for planning.”

Nelson ended by calling the opportunity of organizing a World Cup event altogether a different journey, referring to the changing environment as a way of the world with a hope to not only organize a successful edition of the World Cup but also inspire the youth to take up the sport and achieve big.

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