Sports Minister of New Zealand, Grant Robertson, left it on ICC to decide whether the Black Caps can replace Australia as host of the T20 World Cup, scheduled to take place from October 18 to November 15, but currently uncertain because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has deferred the decision on the fate of the tournament to July. But with New Zealand declaring itself free from the deadly outbreak and allowing Super Rugby to go ahead with fans in the stadium, the country has emerged as a potential host for the showpiece event.
Robertson, in an interview with ANI, said it is upto the ICC to decide that, adding that the nation is currently focussed on preparation to host the Women's 50-over World Cup in 2021.
"This is a decision for the ICC to make," he said. "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."
Speculations have also been rife over New Zealand becoming a neutral venue for other sides to ensure their international calendar is safeguarded. Robertson, though, reminded everyone that the country's borders are still sealed.
New Zealand players have been allowed to return to training, with the next home international summer now looking more feasible than it did two months back.
"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," said Robertson.
"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.
The Super Rugby, said Robertson, was allowed with people in attendance only after putting all health safety protocols in place.
"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."
"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."
The New Zealand government on June 8 confirmed that that the country will be moving to Alert Level 1, lifting all restrictions on mass gatherings, including those at sports stadiums.
The decision was announced by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, as the country didn't report any positive case from May 22.
As per a report in stuff.co.nz, however, two women who travelled from the United Kingdom to Wellington for a parent's funeral have now tested COVID-19 positive. Thus, breaking the nation's case-free streak of 24 consecutive days.
(Inputs from ANI)