Kiwi Olympic hero Dylan Schmidt has suggested changes to New Zealand's managed isolation and quarantine system need to be made in order to allow athletes to do their jobs without having to depend on lucking in to a MIQ voucher.
Schmidt, who claimed Olympics bronze in the men's trampoline gymnastics competition in Tokyo, is set to compete at the world championships in Azerbaijan in November. While Schmidt was able to secure a voucher for a spot in MIQ upon his return, his coach is yet to have the same success which could leave Schmidt having to plan around not having his coach alongside him.
"I think everyone's struggling," Schmidt told Newstalk ZB. "All us athletes want to do is perform and go and compete for New Zealand, and it does make it challenging with these two weeks in MIQ.
"If we could have secured spots that would be great but, unfortunately, we're just trying to get spots like everyone else which is I guess fair enough, but when you're trying to get dates and trying to line things up it's just super challenging logistically to plan.
"Hopefully there'll be some improvements in the future and especially for next year, but we'll just have to wait and see I guess."
MIQ has an operational capacity of 4000 rooms per fortnight, and vouchers have been selling out at a rapid rate. According to the Government website, there are 17,000-19,000 users on the website each day on average, while in the first week of August, there was, on average, 19,600 users on the website each day.
Schmidt suggested a facility could be set up specifically for the country's athletes to use, which would allow them to come in and out of New Zealand in order to compete, as it would avoid having to depend on being able to secure a spot in MIQ before committing to their next job.
"That's the decision the Government's made which is fair enough, I'm not going to complain. I think there are options out there to potentially have facilities," Schmidt said.
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"There are facilities like [Auckland's] Bruce Pulman [Arena] that have accommodation on site which could maybe be open for athletes so we can come home and keep training, keep competing and keep representing our country because that's what we're doing, we're going over there and trying to represent New Zealand with pride and win medals.
"For a lot of athletes, myself included, it is our livelihood, it's why we compete and it's how we put food on the table," he added.
"It's a challenging situation for the Government and everyone involved. Hopefully things will get easier in the future."
Schmidt also noted the challenges that Covid-19 and the cost of MIQ present for young athletes trying to begin a career.
"It's also tough for your younger athletes trying to come through, there's plenty of people trying to go to these world champs who can't and financially, it's challenging.
"Those athletes coming through [are] not competing for two or three years, they're 17 and 18 years old, it's tough to stay motivated and I really feel for them, feel for everyone – every athlete trying to come through in New Zealand, it's not an easy thing, because they want to compete and perform just as much as me."