"This is a decision for the ICC to make," said New Zealand's Sports Minister Grant Robertson when asked whether the country can host this year's T20 World Cup in place of Australia.
The T20 World Cup is slated to be played in Australia from October 18-November 15 this year, however, the fate of the tournament is uncertain due to coronavirus. The International Cricket Council (ICC) has deferred the decision on the fate of the tournament to July.
However, there are calls from many people to host the tournament in New Zealand as the country has managed to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country and has allowed Super Rugby to go ahead with fans.
Former Australia batsman Dean Jones had also suggested that T20 World Cup can be played in New Zealand as the country has eased lockdown measures considerably.
In an interaction with ANI, New Zealand Sports Minister Robertson said that the final decision is for the ICC to take, and currently, the country is preparing to host the Women's World Cup in 2021.
"This is a decision for the ICC to make. Australia did a fantastic job of hosting the ICC Women's T20 World Cup earlier this year and I'm sure all cricket fans have their fingers crossed that the men's tournament can go ahead as planned. However, New Zealand and New Zealanders are looking forward to hosting the teams in ICC Women's Cricket World Cup next year," Robertson told ANI.
There has been huge speculation over opting New Zealand as a neutral venue for other bilateral cricket series, however, Robertson has said that the country's borders remain closed to non-New Zealand nationals at present.
He also said that international cricket will start in the country later this summer, however, he has cleared Kiwi players for net sessions.
"At this point in time New Zealand's borders remain closed to non-New Zealand nationals entering the country so at this point in time there are no confirmed sports tournaments to be hosted in New Zealand by other countries," Robertson said.
"Cricket will commence once again in the summer season. No doubt there are some keen players out there already preparing for the season to begin," he added.
As New Zealand allowed Super Rugby to go ahead with fans in attendance, the Minister has also explained the protocols that have been put in place to ensure the safety of everyone.
"Event organisers have been asked to sign up to the COVID Code which sets out good practice for hosting safe events at Alert Level 1. Spectators are asked to ensure they stay away from the event if they are sick, ensure they wash their hands regularly, and that if they cough they do so into their elbow. QR codes are available so that people can keep an individual contact tracing record," Robertson said.
"For players, there are health and safety protocols that ensure, as far as possible, the players remain healthy and COVID-19 free. All players are monitored on a daily basis by the team doctor for any symptoms and are referred for COVID-19 testing if they develop any cold or flu-like symptoms. All Super Rugby games will be played under regular Alert Level 1 health guidelines," he added.
On June 8, the New Zealand government had confirmed that the country will be moving to Alert Level 1 lifting all restrictions on mass gatherings including at stadiums.
The last case of coronavirus was reported on May 22 in New Zealand when this decision was announced by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
However, as per a report in stuff.co.nz, two women who travelled from the United Kingdom to Wellington for a parent's funeral have now tested positive for Covid-19.
As a result, New Zealand's case-free streak of 24 consecutive days has been broken.