Virus fears postpone NZ hockey travel

Daniel Gilhooly

New Zealand has followed Australia's lead and will keep its national hockey teams grounded after the escalation of the coronavirus in Europe.

Hockey NZ said the men's and women's Black Sticks' won't play Pro League games in Germany and the Netherlands after consulting with medical advisors and High Performance Sport New Zealand.

Chief executive Ian Francis said the players were also consulted.

Hockey's governing body, the FIH, had already postponed matches in China that were scheduled to be played last week and this week.

On Sunday, Hockey Australia announced it had suspended all international travel for its teams until further notice.

FIH chief executive Thierry Weil said every effort would be made to complete both the men's and women's global leagues, which are due to finish in late June.

"Our reaction is no different to what we have expressed when Hockey Australia took a similar decision, and we do understand Hockey New Zealand's stance," Weil said.

"We will look at every available option to play this year's FIH Hockey Pro League matches, while monitoring the global evolution of the situation closely, following the recommendations of the World Health Organisation and placing the health of all stakeholders involved as priority."

Hockey NZ said it will decide at a later date whether to send New Zealand's teams to their next official games, against Australia in Perth in mid-May.