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Cancelled (or not) by covid

by Lindsay Shelton
On the last day of last month, the Wellington Phoenix – in their temporary Australian base – were hoping that they’d avoided a widespread outbreak of covid. But their hopes were dashed.

On December 31, two players tested positive, and then negative – and as a result they missed the game with Adelaide and had to stay away from training for seven days.

The Phoenix were beaten in Adelaide, and then covid emerged again before the (rescheduled) quarter-final in Melbourne. Three players returned inconsistent rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 and couldn’t be considered for the match against Melbourne City. In spite of the five absentees, the Phoenix won the quarter-final.

But then covid struck again. Two days after the Melbourne win, came this news:

Eight players have tested positive, while two other players and a staff member are close contacts and have to isolate for seven days.

As a result, the next two Phoenix matches have had to be postponed.

At the end of December, coach Ufuk Talay explained why he was concerned about the consequences of postponements:

“If we have a pause there’s going to be such a backlog of games that we need to squeeze in till the end of the season, so if the games can be played, we need play the games. The hardest thing is once they get it is not being able to train and be on the park and trying to get them back to a certain level again within the season. “

It’s not only sport. In November, Ticketek started selling seats for a Wellington season of Come From Away, with a touring company from Australia. But less than six weeks later, the season was called off. Covid, of course.

One of the producers explained:

“Come From Away has a large touring company and we felt it necessary to take a conservative view given the uncertainty around the reopening of the international border to meet our travel requirements.”

Local theatre, however, is continuing without any need for performers crossing borders. At Circa, the annually popular pantomime runs till the 15th, and the next show is confirmed for the 22nd, with four more bookings in February. At Bats, four shows are starting on the 25th as part of its Six Degrees festival, and then three more shows are booked for February. Both theatres do, however, require vaccine passes, and masks. (As do all Wellington cinemas.)

And though Come From Away has pulled out of the St James, the soon-to-be newly-restored theatre is still showing signs of life – Wellington Opera’s production of La Traviata is booking for a season in July, and a local production of Les Miserables is booking for a season in August. Again, all local.

Not forgetting that you can also book for Orchestra Wellington’s six concert season for 2022, and for the NZSO’s 75th anniversary season – bookings for the first Wellington concerts can now be made. (Though they may be worrying about some of the performances involving off-shore visitors, scheduled for later in the year.)

And not just the classics. San Fran is back in business, with three sold-out shows last Friday and Saturday by the Beths, from Auckland. Vaccine passes and ID required, but not masks. Valhalla has three shows booked this week. And Glass Vaults will be at Meow on Friday. All local!

There’s been one reverse postponement. Fat Freddys Drop was booked for a show at the Sydney Festival on 18 January. It’s had to be cancelled because of covid travel restrictions continuing across the Tasman. The world-famous Wellington band is now organising a new Sydney show, independent of the festival, but the date will have to match with travel (there and back) becoming possible again. If you’re in Sydney and you’ve got tickets, they’ll still be valid when travel has re-started and the new date has been found. And for New Zealanders, Fat Freddys will be headlining at Womad in March, with a great lineup of local performers (but none of the usual visitors from offshore.)

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