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New Zealand rolls out NZ$265m sports recovery package

All Blacks captain Sam Whitelock addresses his team during their Rugby World Cup Group B game against Namibia (by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Sport in New Zealand is set for multi-million-dollar government backing to help it recover from the Covid-19 downturn.

The three-stage support package was announced by the country’s finance minister Grant Robertson, who is also the minister of sport. Robertson noted the sports and recreation sector contributed about NZ$5bn ($2.97bn/€2.74bn) per year to New Zealand’s GDP and employs more than 53,000 people.

Robertson said the money, which will be split into three packages, addressing short-, medium-, and long-term challenges faced by the sports sector, will begin flowing within days. Sports organisations ranging from community grassroots groups up to the All Blacks national rugby team will avail of it.

Over the next four years, the New Zealand Government will invest in three areas to support the sports sector. An initial fund of NZ$83m will provide short-term support to organisations in a bid to save jobs, keep them afloat and help them through the initial impact of the pandemic.

In a second phase, NZ$104m will be spent to help the sports sector rebuild in the medium term, so national and regional sports organisations can make changes in order to operate successfully in the post-pandemic environment.

In the third phase, a NZ$78m package will be available for innovative approaches to delivering play, active recreation and sport, through the use of new technology and research. This phase is aimed at modernising the sector.

“We want New Zealanders to be able to get back to sport, recreation and play as soon as possible…Sport plays a significant role in bringing our communities together. Our success on the world stage also brings inspiration and pride to our country,” Robertson said.

The New Zealand government has given the green light for professional sport in the country to resume, after lowering the Covid-19 ‘alert level’ to two. Rugby and netball competition is set to resume soon.