Sports fans in New Zealand are now starting to see the Covid-19 pandemic casualties mount up.
The 2022 New Zealand Superbike Championships have now been wiped from the calendar, this sad news coming just one day after the sport’s governing body here, Motorcycling New Zealand, had to announce that the New Zealand Motocross Championships would now not be run this year.
These announcements follow hard in the wheel tracks of the revelation late last year that the big annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville, originally set for this coming weekend, had to be canned.
It is another body blow to the sport in New Zealand and leaves many world-class Kiwi athletes, many of whom had already resigned themselves to the fact they’d be staying in the country rather that pursuing glory overseas for the foreseeable future, to reconsider their options for the coming months as the world struggles to curb the virus.
“There is huge uncertainty around the New Red Traffic Light covid-19 protocols,” said NZSBK Director Grant Ramage, speaking alongside MNZ road race commissioner Andy Skelton.
Organisers of the major annual Moto Fest motorcycling spectacle, set down for Hampton Downs in March, had informed MNZ this week that they could not risk running the Moto Fest meeting and sustain a heavy financial loss. The popular motorcycling festival was to incorporate a round of the NZSBK within its two-day programme.
“MNZ can’t sustain this sort of loss either,” said Ramage.
“Over the past few years, the Covid situation has decimated the NZSBK series and placed some huge financial burden around the model. With Moto Fest withdrawing from the series and, without a minimum of four rounds plus sponsorship and a paying gate, the series cannot exist.
“Myself and my team were trying to pull a fourth round into play with the help and supportive nature of the team in the far south, but, with the news concerning Moto Fest, the financial risk is too high, compounded by the Covid dynamic.
“So, with this news we have taken the decision to cancel the series for 2022.”
Motorcycling New Zealand general manager Mike Kerrisk said it was “another very difficult decision to have to make on the back of our cancelling the national motocross series” this week also.
“I keep expressing how disappointed we as an organisation are, from Board level, right through to our club and community volunteers, when having to make these calls, we feel it the same as anyone else.
“When our host clubs and venues, along with that ‘second layer of operations’ that being man-power/volunteers, service providers, medical, for example all tell us that they run the risk of not being able to deliver to the expectations of quality and safety required, we need to be practical and accepting of those challenges,” said Kerrisk.
“As we alluded to earlier, the financial risk is too great, given the impact of Covid on sponsorship, plus the series needs spectators. However, we are talking to clubs to see if we can pull individual meetings together that represent some form of racing that supports further the clubs and potentially builds a sounder foundation for the future with more club involvement.
“We have some options and we will work through the possibilities,” he said.
As discussions progress and options are explored and details worked through, MNZ says it will advise its members and stakeholders of any viable possibilities in the coming weeks and months.
Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com