New Zealand Open cancelled because of COVID-19


WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Organisers of next year's New Zealand Open golf tournament have had to cancel the event because of the uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic.

The tournament was scheduled to be held on two courses in the South Island town of Queenstown in February.

"We are extremely disappointed to have had to come to this decision," organising committee chairman John Hart said in a statement on Thursday.

"But the effects of the pandemic, borders being closed, and the financial risk associated with a potential later cancellation due to any further Covid-19 outbreaks means we have no other alternative other than to cancel this event now."

Hart said they had expected up to 300 people from overseas to attend the tournament.

New Zealand has closed its borders to anyone but returning citizens or permanent residents and while overseas visitors can apply for an exemption, they must meet stringent conditions and are rarely granted.

All arrivals must also still undergo 14-days isolation with short-term visitors charged for their stay in government-run facilities.

The cancellation of the New Zealand Open follows that of Australia's four major golf tournaments, all of which were also scheduled for February.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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