Confirmed: Rally New Zealand cancelled for 2020 amid Covid-19 pandemic
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The highly touted return of the World Rally Championship to New Zealand's incredible roads is going to have to wait, following confirmation earlier today that the event has been cancelled.
The event had been scheduled for September this year, but travel restrictions and uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic has forced a reshuffle.
“It became clear that with our borders closed to international travel and the logistics required to host thousands of international visitors as part of the World Rally Championship, that the September 2020 date was not practical,” said Rally New Zealand 2020 CEO, Michael Goldstein.
“Over the last twelve months our team have done a huge amount of work to be ready to host a WRC event. We are disappointed to not host the World Rally Championship in 2020 but at the same time the issues around the world put this into context."
Rally New Zealand organisers are "optimistic" that the event could be included on the 2021 World Rally Championship calendar. Among other considerations, New Zealand's performance in deferring the Covid-19 virus should place us in good stead.
"ATEED understands and supports the decision to cancel the 2020 event given the current global travel restrictions and uncertainty of when borders will reopen," added Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) general manager Steve Armitage.
"While we appreciate this will disappoint many motorsport fans, there are clearly a range of practical issues that cannot be resolved in time for the event to proceed as scheduled. Of course, we welcome the opportunity to work with the promoter and the FIA in the future to explore the possibility of this iconic event returning to our shores in 2021."
"We were all excited to see New Zealand reclaim its place in the FIA World Rally Championship in 2020 after a seven year absence and we are naturally sad that we will not be able to go there this year," said FIA Rally Director Yves Matton.
“The event has a strong WRC heritage and I’m sure the drivers would have loved to be back on its iconic stages or discover them for the first time. Motorsport New Zealand and the organising team have done a fantastic work so far and we are already looking ahead to the rally taking place in the near future."