Realism needed on Christchurch hopes, says PM
New Zealanders must be realistic about Christchurch hosting Rugby World Cup matches, Prime Minister John Key said yesterday, as hopes dimmed of the earthquake-hit city participating in the event.
Key denied a British media report that the International Rugby Board (IRB) had already decided to shift matches from New Zealand’s second largest city in the wake of last month’s devastating quake, which killed about 200 people.
But he said the IRB must look at the practicalities of trying to hold matches in Christchurch.
That would include seeing whether or not its World Cup stadium could be repaired and if the city had enough hotel rooms to service thousands of rugby fans.
“We all need to be realists here and we need to provide them (the IRB) with good, sound advice. We will do that,” Key told TV3.
“Obviously, emotionally we want to hold the Cup (in Christchurch) but if we practically can’t, then we won’t, but let’s not rush the decision.”
With the tournament’s September 9 kick-off less than six months away, Key said he expected a decision from the IRB by the end of the week.
Damage assessments on Christchurch’s AMI Stadium were due to be submitted to the government yesterday, but Key said it was already apparent that repairing the venue’s pitch in time for the tournament would be “no mean feat”.