New Zealand athletes caught up in Coronavirus outbreak in Italy

06:54 am on 26 February 2020

The New Zealand boxing team has been caught in-between a rock and hard place as the coronavirus hits Italy, according to their coach.

David Nyika and coaches Photo: Boxing NZ

A nine strong New Zealand team is training in Italy ahead of the Asia-Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament in Jordan next month.

The event had originally been scheduled for China earlier this month, but was postponed because of the virus.

The New Zealand team had been preparing for that tournament in Thailand and were stranded there for an extra week while officials considered their options.

They then returned home before making new arrangements for the replacement tournament.

Ten people have died in Italy and 229 tested positive for the virus, while 11 towns in the north are in lockdown.

Several top football matches have been called off, while Six Nations Rugby officials are monitoring the situation.

New Zealand Boxing coach Billy Meehan says while there is concern within Italy, his athletes are remaining positive and they're awaiting official guidance from local health officials.

"We've had a few chats about it with the team just to put them at ease as a couple of them were concerned about what was being said and so we've talked to home and now they're pretty relaxed about it and they'll leave it in the hands of those who are guiding them an they'll focus the best they can on the camp and getting to Jordan.

Meehan says some of the European teams that are preparing for their own event have decided to head home.

"Everybody is a bit up in arms and a bit worried about it, our team is remaining reasonably positive about it, but a couple of the countries have got a bit scared about the situation and they've gone home, but we are at this stage receiving advise and we've hoping to get through to the 29th before we have to leave."

Troy Garton Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Meehan says their main concern is that Jordan may close the border to people travelling from Italy before they get to leave, so they're working through that also.

"We're a bit stuck between a rock and a hard place as the last thing we want to do is pack up another camp and disappear again, we really need to try and follow this one through get to Jordan and get the job done."

The New Zealand team is scheduled to leave Italy on Saturday with the Olympic qualifying tournament starting in Amman on Wednesday.

Boxers probably need to finish on the podium at the Jordan tournament to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.