America's Cup holders Team New Zealand have confirmed they were not invited to a crunch meeting to discuss the future of the America's Cup World Series event in Sardinia.
The event, which is scheduled to be contested next month, is in jeopardy due to the coronavirus outbreak and the current state of lockdown in Italy. Sardinia is an island situated in the Mediterranean Sea off the country's west coast.
As first reported by the Herald, challenger of record Luna Rossa called a meeting between syndicates this morning to discuss how to approach the regatta going forward, but neglected to invite Team NZ to the proceedings.
Fellow teams American Magic and Ineos Team UK were invited and attended the meeting, the Herald understands.
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A spokesperson for Team NZ confirmed the exclusion to the Herald in a written statement.
"Emirates Team New Zealand were not invited or part of toady's meeting. All we have to go off is the statement that the Challenger of Record issued earlier this morning."
The statement sent out by Luna Rossa said the Italian-based syndicate was closely monitoring the developments and any potential impact on the event in Sardinia, which is set to run from April 23-26.
"At this stage there are no elements which prohibit the ACWS Cagliari – Sardinia to take place on schedule (23rd to the 26th of April), the Italian government's decree of suspension of the sport activities/events expiring on the 3rd of April," the statement read.
"Any further updates from COR 36 regarding the ACWS Sardinia – Cagliari event will be posted on the America's Cup website."
The Herald understands that the challengers reached agreement on "a way forward" during the meeting - but will need agreement from TNZ.
Sources have indicated that the latest snub has made it evident that "all is not well" between the Kiwi syndicate and Luna Rossa.
In January the teams reportedly clashed over the wind range to be enforced for next year's America's Cup, a dispute that could significantly impact the design for the boats to be sailed in Auckland.
Team New Zealand wanted the top end limit to be 24 knots whereas Luna Rossa were set on 20 knots. The arbitration panel ruled in favour of Team NZ.
All sporting events in Italy have been cancelled until April 4 due to the Coronavirus outbreak that has the country in lockdown.
The first stop on the World Series will be a historic event as the four syndicates get out on the water to race their AC75s for the first time.
Last week American Magic skipper Dean Barker, who won the America's Cup with Team New Zealand in 2000, labelled the Cagliari event a "risky proposition".
Speaking to the Radio Sport Breakfast, Barker last Friday said they could only work with the information they had at the moment, which was that at this stage the event would go ahead as planned.
"I think you'd say with everything you read about in Italy, it sounds like it's certainly a risky proposition right now, but I'm sure the guys running the event there are talking with the Italian government and what have you to try and understand what's required," Barker said.
"You hear about football matches and things with no one in the stadiums and all the travel bans around Northern Italy. So, definitely, you do wonder how likely it is that it will happen."