To the delight of Luna Rossa, the Prada Cup final will resume this week — although America's Cup organisers have made it clear they aren't happy about it with a stinging statement.
America's Cup Events [ACE] released a blunt statement this morning confirming the series between Luna Rossa and INEOS Team UK is back on after the Italian Challenger of Record made it clear yesterday they wanted racing to continue regardless of what alert level Auckland is in.
"It is clear that [the Challenger of Record] are determined to remain inflexible to a change in the race schedule against the interests of the public and commercial benefits to the city and businesses," ACE said in a statement.
"ACE has consistently maintained our preference to have the best opportunity to race at Alert Level 1."
Auckland has since moved to Alert Level 2 after starting the week in a Level 3 lockdown due to three community cases discovered in South Auckland on Sunday.
Chair of ACE, Tina Symmans, said it was a "disappointing situation" for the regatta to be in with Luna Rossa.
"It is my responsibility to do my best to run the event with the best interests of the public and all stakeholders in mind," Symmans said.
"So with the current impasse, while not agreeing with the Challenger of Record, we want to see the regatta completed on the water."
ACE added they now hope to continue racing with as much television coverage as possible while fans can still watch live as well in small gatherings that abide by the Level 2 restrictions in place. The restrictions currently allow no more than 100 people at a venue.
"Since Sunday, we have worked really hard on behalf of everyone in Auckland and all Kiwis to give [Luna Rossa] the opportunity to demonstrate some honour and respect for this country and delay the Prada Cup until we have a greater chance of everyone being able to enjoy and benefit from being back into Level 1,” Symmans said.
“Clearly they have forgotten the words of their leader Patricio Bertelli at the opening press conference who spoke about how privileged everyone is to be in Auckland without significant Covid restrictions and that therefore everyone has a commitment and responsibility to deliver great sportsmanship and the Prada Cup to be a major sporting event.
“This plea has fallen on deaf ears and it’s clear that their focus is solely on Luna Rossa taking the Prada Cup rather than the greater good of the country who have worked so hard in order to be in a position to stage this event.”
Minutes after the statement was released, the Challenger of Record had a scheduled press conference where they were flooded with questions about the statement.
Luna Rossa spokesperson Francesco Longanesi Cattani was just as blunt with his response, saying he disagreed with comments completely.
"We honour and respect this country and as I've kept saying, we're honoured and priviledged to be here and involved in such a great event," Longanesi Cattani said.
"I don't think insisting on respecting the calendar and the rules is dishonour and disrespect towards the country - quite the opposite."
Longanesi Cattani then took a swipe at ACE, calling the comments "unfair".
“It’s a populistic comment most of all. Like most of the press releases that have come out from that organisation.”
With the current Level 2 restrictions in mind, ACE said Prada Cup racing will continue with the current adjustments:
- Racecourses B & C will not be used for racing, to mitigate the chance of large public gatherings on shore, which are in line with Government Level 2 restrictions.
- No public viewing opportunities such as dock out shows or public screening of racing in the race village.
- Including gatherings of no more than 100 people in the America’s Cup Race Village or public spectator vantage points around Auckland.
- Limited village activations to ensure no more than 100 people.
- Two-metre physical distancing, and face masks recommended.
- All bars, restaurants and cafes surrounding the Race Village can remain open in line with Ministry of Health Covid-19 Level 2 guidelines.
TVNZ will still broadcast racing live on TVNZ1 and online.