16 February 2020

Coronavirus disruption leaves New Zealand boxing with 'major problems' as they seek funding for Olympic qualification

Boxing New Zealand chairman Keith Walker has admitted disruption caused by the coronavirus epidemic could hamper the country's fighters' hopes of making it to the Olympics this summer.

More than 1600 people have now been killed from the outbreak in China.

A qualifying event for the Tokyo Games, which was set to be staged in Wuhan in China, was called off just four days before the Kiwi team were due to travel there from their training camp in Thailand.

And Walker has now spoken about the trouble that has caused them given their lack of funding.

He said: "When Wuhan was cancelled we had major problems. We had to fly them back home and not through China, so we had to buy other air tickets for them."

The qualifiers are now scheduled to take place in Jordan from March 3-11.

And the cost of flying their fighters back from Thailand and onto the re-organised qualifiers is likely to leave the governing body bankrupt.

"We won't have money to spend on anything else this year unless we can get some sponsorship or support," added Walker.

"We flew up with China Southern and we weren't allowed to use them coming back because it went through China. We had to buy new tickets with Qantas, which was double the price we anticipated."

Of the nine athletes hoping to qualify for the Olympics in Japan, David Nyika is the only full-time boxer.

And Walker is aware of the strain an Olympic programme has on competitiors, so he insists he will do everything in his power to help them reach the Games in the summer.

He said: "That's why we've made the decision to support them in every way we can. Those that have jobs will certainly be struggling."

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