WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The wealthy owners of America’s Cup sailing teams in New Zealand might miss the chance to see those teams in action because they are unable to obtain places in New Zealand’s managed isolation facilities.
Radio New Zealand reported Thursday that Jim Ratcliffe, the head of INEOS Team UK, Patrizio Bertelli of Italian challenger Luna Rossa and several high-profile figures associated with U.S. team American Magic have secured visas to come to New Zealand but don’t yet have places in isolation hotels.
New Zealand operates a system under which anyone traveling to New Zealand — mostly returning citizens and permanent residents — must obtain a voucher guaranteeing a room in an isolation hotel before boarding a flight home.
Most managed isolation facilities currently are full of New Zealanders who have returned home to be with families at Christmas, returned for compassionate reasons or are returning permanently after previously having lived overseas.
With the isolation system close to capacity some New Zealanders already are being turned away and places have not been found for the team bosses.
Ratcliffe, who heads the INEOS chemicals group, Bertelli, who founded fashion label Prada, and American Magic backers Hap Fauth, Doug De Vos and Roger Penske can only hope vacancies become available before challenger racing begins in January.
Racing began Thursday in the America’s Cup World Series, a warm-up event which is not part of the official America’s Cup regatta.
The teams themselves, sailors and shore crew were allowed exemptions to enter New Zealand as essential workers because the Cup is thought to contribute hundreds of millions to the New Zealand economy. The team owners have been allowed visas on the same basis.
The American Magic backers were granted visas in June and Bertelli and Ratcliffe in July and November respectively, Radio New Zealand reported.
New Zealand’s America’s Cup minister Stuart Nash said his staff are working on a solution.
“We do understand that owners have invested a significant amount of money here so it’s a very fine balancing act about getting this right,” Nash said. “Servicing the needs of Kiwis overseas who want to come home but also ensuring that the men and women who’ve invested millions of dollars in this can take some part in it.”
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