By MATTHEW MCKEW
West Indies cricketing legend Chris Gayle could be among international sporting superstars based in Queenstown if there’s progress on talks to make the resort a ‘‘bespoke’’ isolation base.
City Hall, the government, Southern District Health Board, NZ Cricket and Netball NZ are sounding out options to ensure international sport kicks off again — and Queenstown’s touted as the perfect refuge.
A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment quarantine spokeswoman tells
Mountain Scene work’s on-going but ‘‘we are looking into the possibility of a purpose-specific managed isolation facility in Queenstown for sports teams’’.
The news comes after the resort missed out on hosting Rugby Championship teams
when New Zealand’s bid to secure the tournament failed.
At this stage it appears unlikely Queenstown will bag any fixtures.
But Queenstown council sports tsar Simon Battrick says the district’s an ideal location
for teams to be based for isolation and training.
‘‘We have all the facilities needed to host international sports teams, we’ve a couple of
cricket wickets, we’ve got nets that were purchased for the ICC under-19s Cricket World
Cup to be utilised and two indoor netball courts that are of sufficiently high standard.’’
Battrick reckons Queenstown’s in the perfect position to welcome several teams at once,
saying there are plenty of hotels and it’s just a matter of rotating training sessions.
He says sides would likely be based here for training, then fly on to bigger venues for
matches, before returning for rehab.
Battrick says ‘‘informal talks’’ have so far concerned netball and cricket, but other sports
International cricket games around the world, such as in England, have been played in strict bubbles, but it’s understood in NZ players will be free to roam after a 14-day quarantine.
He’s confident there’s minimal risk to the public and says many would relish seeing the
world’s elite around town.
Novotel boss Jim Moore says ‘‘a number of hotels’’ met with Minister Megan Woods previously to discuss quarantine and were told Queenstown may be considered for ‘‘bespoke business’’, like sports teams and film crews.
But he’s ruled out Novotel, because it’d have to close to other guests.
‘‘Generally if they go ahead with a venue they would take the entire hotel over and not allow other guests to be in the same place, so it would be important for any hotel that chooses to do this to consider the long-term viability of doing so.’’
Who the Black Caps entertain this year’s a bit up in the air, but West Indies were previously
scheduled to visit for Test and T20 matches.
Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson and fast bowler Trent Boult could even be headed for the
resort when they quarantine on return from the IPL, ready for international action.
Pakistan, Bangladesh and Australia are also proposed visitors, with the White Ferns likely to
welcome Aussie and England.
Netball side, Silver Ferns, are yet to confirm if the Constellation Cup versus Australia will go