ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup CEO Andrea Nelson on Friday said that the schedule of the tournament will be retained despite New Zealand going into a red level of lockdown due to the Omicron variant of COVID-19 causing a surge in the cases. Due to the new COVID-19 restrictions in the country, New Zealand men’s and women’s upcoming international matches were moved to a single venue.
“We did look at multiple contingency plans over the last 12 months as you can well imagine. But the plan is to retain the schedule as it is with the six venues. The contingency measures we’re putting in place relate to kind of partaking the travel between those venues as much as possible,” Andrea was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
“One of the factors (of hosting a multi-team cricket event) in New Zealand is that our venues are very different to, for example, some of the venues in the subcontinent or the UK. For those that have watched cricket in New Zealand, we’ve got grass-bank stadiums, (and) smaller stadiums that don’t have hotels built into them. So, it’s a very different environment to how some of it have been staged recently,” added Andrea.
Andrea affirmed that the mega event, already delayed by a year due to the pandemic, is not seeing any immediate postponement at the moment. The Indian team, led by Mithali Raj, had landed in New Zealand on January 26 ahead of five ODIs and a T20I (all matches at Queenstown) against the hosts before shifting focus to the World Cup.
“The first team is on the ground already. The next team arrives next week. Plans have well advanced. There’s no information (on a potential postponement) we have at the moment.”
The eight-team World Cup, with 31 matches overall, will be played across six venues with Hagley Oval in Christchurch scheduled to host the final. Andrea stated that they are working with the people in power to keep options open for fans to enter the stadiums for the World Cup.
“In terms of the delivery of the event for the players, it has not brought about any changes because we had been planning alongside the ICC for the safest possible tournament. So, there are no significant changes to the way we deliver it for the players. Predominantly, the changes are related to the spectators inside the stadium.
“New Zealand has moved to a traffic-light system And broadly speaking, that puts at the moment attendance (which) can be only in groups of 100. So, the work we’re undertaking at the moment is how many groups of 100 can we fit within each stadium. And we’re working through a bit of detail on all that… But really, the message is: we set out to kind of create a fantastic platform for these athletes to perform on, and we remain fully committed to doing that.”