WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand’s government said on Tuesday it has released the first installment of a NZ$265 million ($174.21 million) funding package to help the local sports industry cope with the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sports Minister Grant Robertson said much of the initial NZ$80 million tranche would be used to boost community sports, help sports organizations run national leagues and upgrade facilities for global sporting events.
“All levels of the sector have been affected by COVID-19,” Robertson said in a statement on Tuesday.
“This funding is focused on making sure the sector continues to thrive, while also ensuring New Zealanders can continue to maintain their wellbeing through physical activity.”
New Zealand’s successful joint bid with Australia to host soccer’s Women’s World Cup in 2023 brings a third women’s global event to the country in the next three years.
Both the women’s Cricket and Rugby World Cups are due to be held in New Zealand in 2021 and Robertson said an initial NZ$7.3 million would be spent on upgrading facilities for women.
“We don’t actually have that many bathroom and changing facilities for women at a lot of our sporting facilities in New Zealand,” Robertson told reporters.
“Given that we’re hosting Women’s World Cups, we think it’s important that we do that.”
Women in Sport Aotearoa Chief Executive Rachel Froggatt hoped there would be further investment in women’s sports.
“We continue to take the position that funding distribution must be carefully considered, to ensure women and girls gain equitable benefits and support during COVID-19 recovery,”
Froggatt said in a statement.
($1 = 1.5211 New Zealand dollars)
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford)