New Zealand sporting teams have received good news, with several major clashes set to have crowds in attendance this weekend after changes to the Covid-19 alert levels.
In a press conference this afternoon, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that Auckland will move to level 2 and the rest of the country to level 1, which will take effect at 6am on Sunday morning. It follows five consecutive days of zero new Covid-19 community cases.
Auckland's move back into lockdown and the rest of the country into level 2 last Sunday morning had a significant impact on the Kiwi sporting landscape, with several high-profile fixtures being played without crowds, or postponed.
But the winners from the latest level changes are the Black Caps, White Ferns, Silver Ferns and Crusaders, who all have home matches on Sunday and can now host crowds at full capacity.
The Black Caps and White Ferns take on Australia and England in their international Twenty20 doubleheader at Sky Stadium in Wellington on Sunday, with crowds now allowed to attend after missing clashes earlier this week.
It's a similar case for Netball New Zealand. The Silver Ferns take on Australia in the fourth and final Constellation Cup match in Christchurch on Sunday at 3.15pm – a tussle that could to decide silverware.
Netball New Zealand Head of Events and International Kate Agnew said it's pleasing they can wrap up the series with fans in attendance.
"This week has been a tough one for everyone involved, and none more than our passionate netball fans who had been set to cheer on the teams at all four games," she said.
"While the first three have been closed to the general public to meet all health and safety protocols, to be able to pack out the final match will give a real lift to the players and event."
The Crusaders will face the same scenario in the garden city, when they take on the Hurricanes in Super Rugby Aotearoa, kicking off an hour and 20 minutes after the netball test. The match had been moved from Saturday to Sunday in anticipation of fans being allowed.
In Auckland, the move out of lockdown will allow America's Cup racing to go ahead from Wednesday in the Cup match between Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa.
The Blues, who have been based and training in Cambridge with Auckland at level 3, will be able to play their home Super Rugby Aotearoa match against the Highlanders at Eden Park behind closed doors next Sunday, assuming no further lockdowns. If the city drops to level 1 before the game commences, crowds will be permitted. Cabinet will review moving Auckland to level 1 at the start of next weekend.
A crowd would be a massive boost for the Blues, who have already had two games cancelled due to lockdowns within the last year, both against the Crusaders.