Christchurch quake: World Cup games in doubt

By Wynne Gray

Eastern suburbs are flooded after Christchurch was hit by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake today. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Eastern suburbs are flooded after Christchurch was hit by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake today. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Five World Cup games and two quarterfinals scheduled for Christchurch are in jeopardy after yesterday's big quake.

The seven matches are due to be played at AMI Stadium in September and early October, but officials may have to reallocate them because of the damage to hotels, restaurants, roads and other infrastructure throughout the Christchurch area.

The Wallabies and their Christchurch-born coach, Robbie Deans, are due to be based in the city where they will play pool games against Italy and Russia.

England and Argentina are both scheduled to play two games at the stadium.

Christchurch is also due to host two quarterfinals on the weekend of October 8, with the All Blacks set to play on the Sunday if they finish top of their pool against Tonga, Japan, Canada and France.

Cup organisers said yesterday that it was too soon to consider the implications for the tournament.

"It is way too early to be thinking about what this means for the World Cup," said Mike Jaspers, communications manager for the event.

"We are just thinking about friends, relatives and all the people who have been affected by this."

Hospitality Association of New Zealand chief executive Bruce Robertson said it was far too early for speculation less than 24 hours after the quake struck. "It is not even on anyone's horizon yet."

The New Zealand Rugby Union had difficulty contacting officials at the Canterbury Rugby Union or Crusaders staff and said they had no reports of any problems with the city's rugby stadium.

The rejuvenated AMI stadium opened in January last year. It was playing host to the US-NZ 2011 Partnership Forum when the quake struck. All delegates were reported safe.

A US group of 43 government, business and community leaders was attending the forum, which began on Monday and was due to end last night.

A Rugby World Cup fan zone has been planned for Cathedral Square.

* A transtasman netball league match between the Canterbury Tactix and Northern Mystics that was scheduled to be played at Christchurch on Sunday has been postponed.

League organisers and Netball New Zealand will now work through arrangements to reschedule the game for a later date.

- NZ Herald

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