The CEO of America's Cup challenging syndicate Team INEOS UK is ramping up the pressure on the New Zealand Government to allow its foreign passport holders into the country.
Grant Simmer, who was the navigator aboard Australia II's successful America's Cup challenge in 1983, has revealed his syndicate and the New York Yacht Club's American Magic challenge have engaged the UK and US ambassadors to help their cause.
Team New Zealand has been largely silent on the matter, with some suggestions it's in the defender's interests for the challengers to be delayed. Simmer doesn't buy that but thinks Team New Zealand could be more vocal.
• America's Cup: American Magic crew describe foiling new AC75s unlike anything else
• Luna Rossa's amazing photo of America's Cup scare for Team New Zealand rivals
• America's Cup: Team New Zealand challengers want assurances over getting into country
• Sailing: Government admits Covid-19 could hit America's Cup
"We are trying to put pressure on the New Zealand Government through the UK ambassador, the Americans are trying to do that through their ambassador and it seems a bit ridiculous that something like this is getting escalated to that level. Being stonewalled by the Government or by Team New Zealand on this issue just doesn't really make a lot of sense," Simmer lamented.
"They [Team New Zealand] are just saying 'it's not really in our control, it's the New Zealand Government' but at one point they are going to have to say to the New Zealand Government 'come on guys, you have got to support our event'.
"I certainly I hope they are going to say that," Simmer said.
Team New Zealand released a statement this morning saying: "The Defender is in regular contact with the NZ Govt on the safe entry of America's Cup teams into NZ and is confident and assured that it is being dealt with in the earliest possible timeframe".
Simmer's frustration has been compounded by news the Government has made exemptions for film crews working on big-budget Hollywood films to enter the country during lockdown.
"Clearly the New Zealand Government wants the foreign income and the film industry are going to spend a lot of money, but we're going to spend a hell of a lot of money in New Zealand."
'We want answers': Team NZ rivals' frustration with Government
Last week, American Magic CEO Terry Hutchinson expressed his frustration at the lack of progress dealing with the Government and a failure to get any answers over a timeframe for when their foreign nationals could arrive in New Zealand.
The British challenge planned on having its first boat here in early September with the second boat currently under construction to arrive a month later. But Simmer says the team have much work to do on the ground in Auckland to get ready.
"We were planning to send some people to New Zealand next week, early June, so we kind of need to know and I don't understand at all why they are delaying.
"The New Zealand Government has said it won't delay the event, they want to hold it on time. So why the hell wouldn't they allow competitors to get set up and start operating in New Zealand, you know, subject to the quarantine?" Simmer asked.
"We are submitting all our paperwork to New Zealand immigration and clearly we're all going to have to quarantine when we arrive. We just need some directive from the Government when they are going to process our visas and when they are going to open the borders, subject to quarantine, for our team to arrive."
Simmer doesn't see the Cup event being moved offshore.
"Under the protocol that governs the event, we as challengers don't really have much power over that, it's decided by Team New Zealand and the Italian challenger of record Luna Rossa," Simmer said.
"I think it's unlikely the Cup will get delayed and even more unlikely that it will ever be held offshore."