Two syndicates challenging for 2021 America's Cup granted entry to New Zealand

SHOWS:

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE -SEPTEMBER 9, 2014) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

1. VARIOUS OF AMERICA'S CUP TROPHY AT

PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE - OCTOBER 4, 2019) (STILL IMAGES-MUTE) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

2. VARIOUS STILL PHOTOS OF INEOS TEAM UK'S UNFINISHED NEW AMERICA'S CUP AC75 YACHT AT THE TEAM'S BASE

HAMILTON, BERMUDA (FILE - JUNE 26, 2017) (STILL IMAGE-MUTE) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

3. STILL PHOTO OF EMIRATES TEAM NEW ZEALAND CELEBRATING WITH THE AMERICA'S CUP TROPHY AFTER DEFEATING ORACLE TEAM USA IN 2017 FINALS

STORY: Two syndicates challenging for sailing's America's Cup have been granted exemptions to enter New Zealand and begin their preparations for the event that will be held in Auckland early next year.

Just over 400 people, almost 200 staff working for the American Magic and Britain's INEOS Team UK syndicates and 214 of their family members would receive the exemptions, New Zealand's Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford said on Friday.

"The America's Cup would not be able to go ahead unless these international syndicate teams are allowed entry into New Zealand," Twyford said in a statement.

"Approving these border exemptions allow the teams to start setting up their bases, and carry on key design and boat testing that can be progressed from our shores in New Zealand."

The two syndicates had voiced concerns in the last month that they needed to enter New Zealand by July to begin preparations for the regatta.

New Zealand closed its borders in March to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, with only citizens and permanent residents allowed to enter the country.

The government, however, had the power to grant exemptions to essential workers or those that could provide significant economic benefit to the country.

More than 50 workers on the 'Avatar 2' film project were granted exemptions to enter the country last month.

Economic Development Minister Twyford said last week the syndicates' applications had yet to reach his desk but he expected them "shortly" and the government was "very keen" for the America's Cup to go ahead.

The government expects more than NZ$100 million ($64 million) in economic benefits from hosting the America's Cup, which will start in January with a regatta between the four challengers from Italy, Britain and the United States.

The winner then faces Team New Zealand for the America's Cup next March.

($1 = 1.5605 New Zealand dollars)

(Production: David Grip)

Video Transcript

- Well, I think there's only been one team previously, in the history of the America's Cup, that's gone out and won it the first time around. So, yeah, it was a big comeback with Jimmy and the guys in Oracle. And certainly, it'll be a huge challenge for us with this team. But, you know, to win the America's Cup anyway, whether it's with a foreign team, in terms of the Americans coming from 8-1 down. But for us, in Britain, to bring the America's Cup home, that would be a massive thing.