New Zealand's men's eight and men's quad have been put in Olympic limbo after World Rowing announced it is cancelling multiple upcoming events due to the coronavirus outbreak with the biggest being the final Olympic Qualification Regatta.
World Rowing announced the drastic decision this afternoon, saying the quickly growing number of cases of Covid-19 worldwide "make it very difficult and unadvisable to stage international competitions during the months of March, April and through to May".
As such, they have decided to cancel multiple events including their final Olympic qualification regatta which was originally scheduled to take place in Lucerne, Switzerland on May 17 to 19.
"All have realised the multitude of issues that would prevent teams from travelling now, during April and foreseeably during May, including the travel restrictions being imposed by an increasing number of national authorities, mandatory and voluntary quarantine periods, and lack of medical coverage for coronavirus in some countries," World Rowing said in a statement.
"These factors, amongst others, prevent the participation of Member Federations in the events scheduled in April and May 2020.
"We also understand that prompt and decisive action is being sought and is needed in order to minimise the negative financial impacts on all stakeholders given a pragmatic analysis of the situation."
World Rowing said they are now now in close contact with the International Olympic Committee in order to finalise proposals regarding changes to the respective qualification systems, with answers hopefully becoming available no later than Sunday April 5.
The cancellations put the New Zealand men's eight and men's quad rowing crews in a difficult position with both boats originally heading to Lucerne in a last-ditch effort to qualify for the Olympics after a failed campaign at last year's World Championships.
Just three New Zealand men's boats qualified for Tokyo in Austria last year, meaning seats are highly contested amongst male rowers currently with the lack of spots available.
Overall, New Zealand has qualified nine boats for the Tokyo Olympics so far.
Also cancelled was the World Rowing Cup III event in Lucerne which was scheduled to take place three days after the Olympic qualifier.
Rowing New Zealand said they will continue to train at Lake Karapiro "as usual" after this morning's news.