Volleyball New Zealand in consultation with School Sport New Zealand have on Wednesday mutually agreed to cancel the 2022 New Zealand Secondary Schools Volleyball Championships due to the risks presented by the ongoing Omicron outbreak.
Due to take place in Palmerston North at CET Arena from 28 March – 1 April, the event - one of the biggest secondary schools’ sports events on the calendar - was scheduled to bring over 150 school teams from around the country to the city.
But after a comprehensive review, which included discussions with multiple stakeholders, it has been determined the event is not feasible to deliver during the scheduled timing with the Omicron outbreak set to reach its peak.
Volleyball NZ CEO, Toni-Maree Carnie, says it was an extremely difficult decision, but schools spoke in the consultation process as to their preference not to attend. The quality of the at-event experience of the participants was also a major determining factor.
“We have deliberately left our decision as long as possible in attempt to explore all options available to us and have the latest information to inform our decision,” Carnie said.
“Ultimately, we’ve reached the position we have after listening to schools and due to our focus on the event experience for those involved. The Omicron outbreak could rule out large numbers of players and teams either before or at the event itself deeming it a very expensive non-event for some.
“The impact of that occurring at the event, on the teams, the schools and their families was simply too big a consideration to ignore despite the obvious desire of everyone to get on the court in the circumstances.”
As part of the decision-making process, Volleyball New Zealand consulted directly with School Sport New Zealand, schools, regional associations and event hosts Sport Manawatu and Palmerston North City Council.
School Sport NZ’s Nicki Paterson understands the outcome is hard for the community but supports the decision.
“Volleyball New Zealand have provided opportunity for schools to give their views directly and listened closely to that feedback,” Paterson said.
“The decision they have made prioritises the wellbeing of schools and their students and we fully endorse the outcome.”
Volleyball New Zealand will confirm shortly recommendations for the status and viability for the North and South Island satellite events and continue to explore how to enable further youth-focussed participation opportunities later in 2022.