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Australia and New Zealand green-light first cross-border sports move

GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 08: Wellington Phoenix supporters during the round 222 A-League match between the Central Coast Mariners and the Wellington Phoenix at Central Coast Stadium on March 08, 2020 in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

New Zealand-based A-League club Wellington Phoenix have been given clearance to travel to Australia as the FFA moves to complete its 2019-20 season.

Wellington Phoenix will leave for New South Wales tomorrow on a privately chartered flight, where they will be isolated and housed at a secure facility to prepare for their first match against league leaders Sydney FC on July 17.

New Zealand based players have been tested for Covid-19 and will have further tests throughout the remainder of the competition.

Two overseas players, Gary Hooper and Ulises Dávila, who will join the team in Australia from the UK and Mexico respectively, will undergo a separate 14-day hotel quarantine from the rest of the team, who will be allowed to train together immediately.

In an interview with Radio New Zealand, Wellington Phoenix general manager David Dome said: “We are extremely grateful to FFA especially head of leagues Greg O’Rourke, New South Wales Border Control and New South Wales Department of Health authorities for all their efforts in gaining the club entry into Australia.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently announced they were working on a ‘trans-Tasman’ Covid-19 safe travel zone to ease travel restrictions between the countries.

Earlier this year the governing bodies of cricket and rugby union discussed the potential of setting up events between the two nations.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White and Cricket Australia’s former chief executive Kevin Roberts made contact in May to discuss cross Tasman Sea competitions. Rugby union however has already opted for domestic competition with Super Rugby Aotearoa kicking off in New Zealand last week to record crowds. In Australia, the new Super Rugby Australia competition will start from July 3.

One trans-Tasman event will not be going ahead as planned as New Zealand will miss out on staging a round of this year’s rescheduled Australian Supercars Championship.

“The ITM Auckland SuperSprint is a major drawcard on Auckland’s annual events calendar. Following discussions over recent weeks, it has become clear to all parties that an event in January could not go ahead due to the effects of Covid-19,” Supercars chief executive Sean Seamer said.