ANZ Premiership shutdown marks end of all top-level sport in New Zealand
Following the New Zealand Government's announcement on Thursday restricting indoor mass gatherings in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, Netball New Zealand has postponed the 2020 ANZ Premiership for two weeks.
The only professional sport competition still operating in New Zealand as of this week, competition was halted today, with a possible return target set down for early April.
With the season having begun last weekend, with two games played as normal, and one behind closed doors, the postponement will take effect immediately for the scheduled games in Round 2 and Round 3 that were due to be played on the 22nd/23rd and 28th/29th/30th March.
Netball NZ Chief Executive Jennie Wyllie said the decision has been made due to uncertainty in a rapidly changing environment and a desire to protect the welfare and wellbeing of players, staff and volunteers.
Wyllie advised “protecting the health of our netball players, officials, volunteers and staff is our number one priority, and that means we need to consider their welfare and wellbeing alongside the advice of Ministry of Health and Government.
"We will continue to monitor the situation in New Zealand and follow the information and consultation with the appropriate channels," she said.
"We understand it is disappointing for all of those involved and our fans, but safety is our top priority."
The announcement also affects the Beko Netball League, which sits directly below the ANZ Premiership, with Netball NZ opting to suspend the competition at this time.
Wyllie said the call to suspend the Beko Netball League was difficult to make but they felt it was an appropriate move given the changing environment.
New Zealand Netball Players Association Executive Manager Steph Bond supported the decision, advising “we are all in this together - Netball NZ, players and netball staff across the country along with stakeholders and partners of the game. We fully support Netball NZ's people first strategy and the need to align this with the advice of the Government.
"While there is no play at the moment, when the players do get the opportunity to get back on court they will be looking forward to netball playing a part in supporting the country recover from the impacts of the virus."
All other top level sport in the country had already been cancelled or postponed, along with community sport at virtually every level.
New Zealand Rugby is reportedly aiming to create a domestic-only competition for its five Super Rugby teams, to fill the void left by the indefinite suspension of the main competition.
Two professional teams - the Warriors and Wellington Phoenix - are basing themselves in Australia to remain in the NRL and A-League competitions respectively.
Image shows the ANZ Premiership season launch.
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25th February 2020 - New Zealand sports launch campaign to change youth sport
14th February 2020 - Silver Ferns secure top honours at 57th Halberg Awards
4th November 2016 - Netball New Zealand unveils new ANZ Premiership
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