Olympics: Rain shifts Chch welcome venue

New Zealand Double Scull pair of Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan with their Gold Medals. Photo / Brett Phibbs
New Zealand Double Scull pair of Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan with their Gold Medals. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The welcome home celebrations for New Zealand's Olympic team next week have been moved to a new venue after severe rain in Christchurch.

Around 100 Olympians, including most of the 27 medal winners, will fly into Christchurch on August 24 and were to travel in an open double-decker bus to Hagley Park.

But the park has been flooded and the venue for the ANZ New Zealand Olympic Team Welcome Home celebrations has been changed to Pioneer Recreation and Sport Centre.

"Hagley Park is flooded, and even if we wait a week, the grounds simply won't be dry enough to handle any large crowds, vehicles or infrastructure on Friday, August 24," said John Filsell, Christchurch City Council unit manager for recreation and sports.

"With even more rain forecast for the weekend, we've decided to change venues to Pioneer Recreation and Sport Centre.

"It's a great facility with plenty of capacity and can be used rain or shine, and we're sure that the event will be just as memorable.

"We're looking at options to get a big screen outside the stadium, so fans who can't find a place inside can watch the ceremony before the Olympians come out to meet them."

The schedule of events remains unchanged, with Christchurch sports fans welcoming their Olympic heroes at noon on August 24.

Following a ceremony, the New Zealand Olympic Team will make their way into the adjacent Centennial Park to sign autographs, snap photos, answer questions and compete against fans in various activities - including hockey, volleyball, athletics, football and inflatable boxing - provided by the New Zealand Institute of Sport.

There will be competitions, interactive games and live music, including performances from the world-famous New Zealand Army Band.

After the ceremony, some athletes will head out into the community to visit schools, hospitals, care facilities and businesses. The schedule for these visits also remains unchanged.

For more information, visit www.olympicwelcomehome.co.nz.

- APNZ

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