The New Zealand government has admitted that Christchurch may not be able to host Rugby World Cup matches following last week’s devastating earthquake.
AMI Stadium in Christchurch is scheduled to stage seven World Cup matches in September, but the city’s infrastructure and facilities were badly damaged by last Tuesday’s earthquake, which has so far claimed the lives of at least 148 people.On Friday, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said he was determined to ensure Christchurch hosted World Cup games, while Rugby New Zealand 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden denied speculation that the country could lose some games to Australia.
However, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said on Saturday that Christchurch’s involvement in the tournament was far from certain, even though AMI Stadium had sustained only minor damage.
“To lose the Rugby World Cup from Christchurch would be a massive blow,” Brownlee told TVNZ. “I don’t want to see it happen, but we’ve got to be realistic about the prospect. This place recovered amazingly well after the September 4 earthquake (last year), but let’s not rush too far ahead of things.”
While the World Cup games remain in doubt, the management at AMI Stadium have ruled out Super 15 matches taking place at the venue until at least March 15.