You can make New Zealand’s praises heard from afar, but you can’t come home

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OPINION: Timaru shot putter Tom Walsh seeks US base, Rotorua basketball giant Steven Adams wants to come home but won’t, Taranaki surfer Paige Hareb has chosen not to compete abroad, for fear of being excluded from her homeland.

Should I stay or should I go? If I leave, can I come back? It’s a question that torments world-class athletes and the source of their mental torment boils down to just three letters – MIQ, with its random lottery system.

There is also an MIQ exemption system focused on groups rather than individuals and monetary return. As such, government ministers who launched the appeals allocated 70 places for overseas mountain bikers who traveled to the Crankworx cycling festival, while blocking cyclists in Europe who rode for New Zealand to the World’s Championships. Go figure it out.

MIQ caused travel stress for Tokyo Walsh medalists Michael Venus and Hayden Wilde, who could have come home with the Olympic team for press conferences and TV cameras, choosing instead to make a living on the world circuit.

Tom Walsh celebrates his Olympic bronze medal.

Matthias Hangst / Getty Images

Tom Walsh celebrates his Olympic bronze medal.

READ MORE:
* Covid-19: no relief until at least next year for Kiwi sportsmen stranded abroad in the middle of the MIQ lottery
* Why Home Quarantine or an MIQ Sports Facility Could Help Athletes Stuck in Limbo
* Tokyo Olympics: New Zealand Olympians lead the MIQ with 432 places reserved

Walsh is at home. Wilde is not. Venus gave up trying to negotiate the QIM and moved her family to the United States. Nomadic national heroes.

Walsh and UFC world champion fighter Israel Adesanya said this week that they are looking to move overseas to take the stress and cost out of MIQ, so they can do business more easily.

Triathlete Braden Currie says he’s moving too, even though he did secure a spot in the MIQ lottery.

Hayden Wilde wins bronze at the Tokyo Olympics.

John Cowpland / PHOTOSPORT

Hayden Wilde wins bronze at the Tokyo Olympics.

“The ability for me to continue racing on the world stage is only achievable if I am prepared to continue to leave New Zealand knowing that I have no guaranteed time to return home and be away from my home. family for a long time, ”he said. Europe Friday.

White Fern cricketer Suzie Bates said on Thursday that traveling during the Covid era was too difficult, so she would be pulling out of the Big Bash in Australia, in which she has already stood out.

MIQ, MIQ, MIQ has been cited over and over again. MIQ (Managed Isolation in Quarantine) is now the acronym on everyone’s lips, under the masks.

Suzie Bates of the Strikers ahead of the 2019 Women's Big Bash League final. She has chosen not to travel.

Albert Perez / Getty Images

Suzie Bates of the Strikers ahead of the 2019 Women’s Big Bash League final. She has chosen not to travel.

Of the three ways to enter New Zealand from abroad, individual athletes only succeed the first.

* Line up in the lobby with 30,000 others.

* be sponsored as MIQ exemption by a government body as a group of 20 or more people expected to generate significant economic or employment activity.

* be eligible for the new home isolation system for business people who travel abroad for professional purposes.

All 1,271 athletes benefiting from MIQ exemptions by the ministerial group on border exceptions from February 2021 to March next year have been part of teams.

Among them are the All Blacks, Black Ferns, the Olympic team, Black Caps cricket, English netballers and the Crankworx mountain bike festival.

With 30,000 Kiwis lining up in the “lobby” to get home, there is a lot of angst, much, much wider than sport. But in sports, this angst hurts individual athletes who have to work abroad to make a living.

The Black Ferns have an MIQ exemption, they meet government rules.

Evan Barnes / Getty Images

The Black Ferns have an MIQ exemption, they meet government rules.

This week, the government decided that sports professionals were not businessmen, so they would not be offered the gentler option of home isolation.

Capped at 150, the home isolation program will focus on businesses and employees who need to travel abroad for work purposes.

If you think golfer Ryan Fox, Walsh, Adesanya, tennis player Michael Venus, motocross rider Courtney Duncan, IndyCar rider Scott McLaughlin or Hareb must fit that bill, you disagree with the government.

Being a Sole Trader is hard work, small business owners know it. Traveling the world in search of a career that does not exist in New Zealand is difficult and mentally difficult in these times of Covid-19. It’s more difficult than traveling with a team, with support all around.

File shots of Kiwi motocross star Courtney Duncan.

PROVIDED / Contents

File shots of Kiwi motocross star Courtney Duncan.

UFC fighter Dan Hooker maintains that Sport NZ promotes sports such as rugby, cricket and netball. He was right and wrong. Under the rules, Sport NZ can only sponsor groups of 20 or more for MIQ exemptions. Teams, what.

Among the guidelines of the Border Exception Ministerial Group – the ministers of Immigration, Economic Development, Housing, Health and Home Affairs – is the purpose for which the traveling group is expected to generate significant economic or employment activity. .

“The visit of an athlete or team must demonstrate a financial benefit to the New Zealand economy of more than $ 2.5 million,” the guidelines say.

Sports Minister Grant Robertson is not on the decision-making group, but on Friday he said he was very interested in the ability of New Zealand athletes to get isolation venues managed.

“But we have to balance that with many, many other people who want to enter through Managed Isolation and we are also being criticized if we prioritize sports people over New Zealanders who want to return home.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said the government must balance the demands of athletes with those of other New Zealanders seeking to return home.

ROBERT KITCHIN / Tips

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said the government must balance the demands of athletes with those of other New Zealanders seeking to return home.

“So we have to find a balance here – we’ve tried over the last 18 months to help athletes come and go, but it’s a very high demand period right now.”

Numbers and financial strength are needed to persuade the government that sports deserve MIQ exemptions, not individual Olympic medals or world titles.

This is why the MTB Crankworx festival has 70 MIQ places pushed by the Ministry of Enterprise, Innovation and Employment, and labeled by the ministerial group.

“The Crankworx Festival is a beneficiary of the Major Events Fund, an investment fund that MBIE administers to support major events that provide significant economic, social and cultural benefits to New Zealanders,” a spokesperson told Stuff.

Crankworx got 70 MIQ exemptions.

PROVIDED / Contents

Crankworx got 70 MIQ exemptions.

Crankworx meets the criteria for MIQ’s group allocation process as a priority in the government’s major events portfolio, MBIE said. This not only benefits the Rotorua region, but also consistently delivers significant net national economic, social and cultural benefits.

In contrast, the World Series of Yacht Racing, Sail GP had its finances online for a regatta at Lyttleton Harbor, but was turned down due to a lack of MIQ venues, with the Women’s Cricket World Cup being scheduled. for the same time.

Four-time Olympic navigator Dan Slater, multiple world champion and now trainer, New Zealand citizen taxpayer, married with two young children. Dan Slater is stuck in Europe, his father Rod Slater told Stuff.

“His life and his income oblige him to compete abroad. He has been away since June and due to his professional demands abroad, he had to cancel his original MIQ reservation, thinking he could change it, ”he said.

“Not so. Therefore, it is now blocked. From what I understand, his visa in Europe is about to expire and things are starting to look hopeless. This week’s MIQ raffle was mental torture for him, as I’m sure it was for many others.

If anything good can come of it, it’s that athletes have a voice and top triathletes Currie, Hooker, Bates, Adams, Fox, Walsh and world motocross champion Duncan have voiced concerns. also expressed by New Zealanders who do not have their profile.

Elite athletes and coaches are used to stress, changes in short-term plans, coping. If they are worried and stressed, those in the queue of 30,000 who do not have these coping skills must surely feel their mental anguish even more.

For the future, New Zealand sport raises concerns. If Walsh, McLaughlin and Currie never hang out with them, where do the young locals get their inspiration face to face?

Taranaki's Paige Hareb in action.  She gave up on her travel plans.

Andrew Cornaga / Photosport

Taranaki’s Paige Hareb in action. She gave up on her travel plans.

And if stars like Bates and Hareb don’t want to travel, then why would the next generation take a chance? What 19-year-old can risk being trapped abroad if not Covid, or setting up a base in Europe or the United States?

Just three years away from the Paris 2024 Olympics, New Zealand may well lack international experience, athletes capable of repeating what gymnast Dylan Schmidt and cyclists Ellesse Andrews and Campbell Stewart have done in Tokyo, in winning surprise medals.

MIQ in 2021 could mean MIA (missing in action) in 2024.


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