MWith its aggressive style, the Italian national team is pitting large parts of New Zealand against itself in the Copa America during Corona times. The aura of sailing as a “noble sport” has been damaged, and the reputation of Italian sponsors, the Prada fashion group and tire manufacturer Pirelli is affected.
Business reporter for South Asia / Pacific based in Singapore.
While the New Zealanders want to postpone the boat races coming from competitors due to new Corona cases, among other things at a school in Auckland, the Italians have pushed by sailing without the presence of spectators. They have threatened to want to announce the series’ winner otherwise. This would give them the right to compete against the New Zealand team from March 6 for the oldest sports trophy in the world
“Our request to postpone the boat races because of the preventive measures against Corona did not fall on deaf ears,” Tina Simans, president of the Italian Federation of America’s Cup events, criticized strongly. Anger and disappointment with New Zealand guests mounted in Auckland that morning. Simmons said: “They are only interested in winning the Prada Cup with Luna Rossa, but not in the interest of our country, which has worked hard to host this event.” ACE is funded by New Zealand taxpayers, including the one managed by the defender of the Cup, Team New Zealand, who is in charge of hosting.
It continues on Saturday
The day before, the island nation, which the whole world would envy for its successful handling of the epidemic, recorded five new cases. By Wednesday evening, the government had imposed a “third phase” of precautionary measures, which canceled the races between the Italians and the British due to be held on Wednesday. After four successive victories, Italian Luna Rossa needs only three in nine races to finish the series as the winner.
As of Thursday, the government lowered precautionary measures to ‘Level 2’ – sailing without spectators is permitted. Teams are already training in water. Since the Italians are coldly referring to the rules, the following races will now arrive in Auckland on Saturday from 4pm local time.
As the government maintains precautionary measures due to the pandemic until “at least Monday night,” the thousands of spectators who have so far followed races in and around Huraki Bay will have to stay home. Hotels, cafes and “Race Village” are losing more sales and ruining the festival atmosphere after a very tight lockdown in Auckland.
In order to attract as few spectators as possible in times of Corona, the run will not be conducted on the inner lanes in front of the bank. On Wednesday, the infamous New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urged her people to be “courteous” to each other and to take into account the pandemic that has erupted again.
‘A complete breach of the rules’
But the Italians were ruthless and insisted on the rules. All teams have previously agreed to postpone the series of competitors beyond its planned end of February 24, if needed. In a heated discussion with the organizers, the Italian team referred to “the racing calendar and legitimate expectations for competitors, international viewers and global television networks that have already scheduled broadcast times”. All alternatives with timing in mind are “totally breaking the rules”.