Team New Zealand rivals American Magic have breathed a sigh of relief after finally receiving a border exemption to begin their America's Cup campaign on New Zealand waters.
The Government announced today that it is granting border exemptions to two of the syndicates competing in the 36th America's Cup, paving the way for American Magic and INEOS Team UK to proceed with planning to move to New Zealand in the coming months.
The Government is continuing to work with the challenger of record Luna Rossa on their applications which were seeking a later entry date into the country.
American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson said there was "a big sense of relief" after what has been a sometimes frustrating few weeks for the US challengers, but ultimately was thankful to the New Zealand Government for their efforts.
"We're incredibly respectful of the process that the New Zealand government's taken to get us to this point," Hutchinson told NZME. "We're grateful for the exemptions and really in particular need to thank the Prime Minister [Jacinda Ardern] for her efforts."
He also thanked the other "soldiers behind the scenes" in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) who worked hard on making the America's Cup happen despite the challenges presented by the pandemic.
"As hard as it is because we're antsy with our timing, they worked us through it and helped us through this process. And I can tell you 100 per cent that we're looking forward to integrating into the Auckland community and being the safest and nicest neighbours that you can possibly find."
American Magic and INEOS UK will bring more than 400 workers and family members to New Zealand between them, with the syndicates expected to be in New Zealand for up to ten months.
The teams, and their families, will go into managed isolation when they arrive. This includes Kiwi members of their team as well.
The teams themselves will be paying for the cost of accommodation, flights, food during their managed isolation, while the Government will provide services such as health compliance.
Despite being a bit behind schedule, Hutchinson said he's making no excuses and is excited to get sailing in Auckland in July.
"How it's all panned out, we're going to be in a good spot that we'll be sailing in July. As it is always with the America's Cup, is anything every perfect? No. But if we meet that milestone then at the end of the competition in March of next year, we'll only have the mirror to congratulate or to blame."
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the exemption is "a positive step that will provide a real boost to Auckland's economic recovery".
"The international syndicates will contribute more than $100 million to the economy, with spending across a range of industries including construction, marine, retail, accommodation and hospitality," Goff said.
"We are looking forward to welcoming the syndicates to Tāmaki Makaurau and can't wait to see their boats out on the Hauraki Gulf."
Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton was also pleased with the Government's decision, saying he looks forward to welcoming the teams to Auckland in the coming months.
The event organiser America's Cup Events Limited is continuing to work with the MBIE and the Auckland Council Group on planning for the America's Cup events as the agencies work through the extent of the impact Covid-19 may have.
Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development chief executive Nick Hill and chair of the America's Cup Joint Chief Executive Group says work has resumed on the build of infrastructure to support the event after being put on hold during the lockdown, and planning around event delivery is continuing at pace.
"We are still working through the full impacts of Covid-19 and this includes some of the remaining funding which is required for the ongoing development of the programme which is contingent upon confirmation of the council's Emergency Budget," he said.
"The investment from Auckland Council and the Government to date is helping to create better waterfront infrastructure for Aucklanders, and set a deadline for some of the other planned projects for the city. This is before realising other benefits of hosting an event of this calibre, including lifting Auckland's global profile, attracting investment and new business links."