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Fox: Sports bub­bles way for­ward

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New Zealand golfer Ryan Fox has urged the Gov­ern­ment to adopt a more open mind to cre­at­ing sport­ing bub­bles in this coun­try.

For the past three months, the Kiwi No 2 — who was in a share of eighth af­ter the open­ing round of the BMW Cham­pi­onship in Eng­land — has been play­ing in a Euro­pean Tour bub­ble which has seen him con­test tour­na­ments in Eng­land, Wales, Scot­land, Ire­land and Por­tu­gal, as well as briefly join­ing the US PGA Tour bub­ble at the US Open.

The rules have been strict but es­sen­tially have in­volved so­cial dis­tanc­ing, reg­u­lar hand wash­ing and wear­ing masks ev­ery­where ex­cept on the course. Of the more than 7000 tests con­ducted on the Euro­pean Tour, there has been only one pos­i­tive — Alexan­der Levy, and that was due to him leav­ing the bub­ble for a week.

Fox says the rest of the world is get­ting on with it in terms of sport and it’s not just the Euro­pean Tour bub­ble that has worked.

“The NBA bub­ble has worked well, the Euro­pean Tour bub­ble has worked well and the PGA Tour bub­ble hasn’t even reached dou­ble- digit pos­i­tive tests in a coun­try which ob­vi­ously is go­ing pretty poorly with Covid. It’s proof that if it’s done right, you can be very safe within a bub­ble.”

Fox has watched from a dis­tance as New Zealand lost the Rugby Cham­pi­onship to Aus­tralia and the ASB Tennis Clas­sic was can­celled, and fears there is vir­tu­ally no chance of the New Zealand Open pro­ceed­ing in Queen­stown this sum­mer.

“It may be do- able for some­thing like rugby when you can go away on a six- week trip and quar­an­tine for two weeks be­fore­hand, but for some­thing like golf, when it’s fly in and fly out, ev­ery­one’s in for a week, the cur­rent quar­an­tine rules ab­so­lutely ruin the prospects for a New Zealand Open.

“I don’t want to speak too soon, as it hasn’t been can­celled yet, but it’s not good signs with what hap­pened with the Rugby Cham­pi­onship and ASB Clas­sic.

“Hope­fully some­thing changes but Covid is go­ing to be around for a long time and we have to learn to live with it.

“I don’t want to get po­lit­i­cal about it at all, but the rest of the world is manag­ing to get on with it, and it would be nice to see us cap­i­tal­is­ing on the po­si­tion we’ve got and have live sport with crowds and at­mos­phere and cre­ate a bub­ble sys­tem.”

Fox faces the prospect of lit­tle com­pet­i­tive golf for the next six months, partly by choice. His wife is due with the cou­ple’s first child in De­cem­ber, hence why he’s cut­ting his Euro­pean Tour sea­son short and is not play­ing in the sea­son- end­ing event in Dubai in mid- De­cem­ber.

“It’s a re­ally tough one for me, hav­ing a new­born at the start of the year is go­ing to make it more dif­fi­cult. It’s look­ing like at the start of the year, I am go­ing to be forced to make a choice of try­ing to pro­vide for my fam­ily by play­ing events or stay­ing at home and spend­ing time with them.

“With our cur­rent quar­an­tine rules I prob­a­bly won’t be able to play any of the early- sea­son events in the Mid­dle East and Aus­tralia be­cause that would mean around three months away from the fam­ily.

“I know next year we will be look­ing to move back to the UK as soon as pos­si­ble be­cause it lets me do my job and I cer­tainly don’t want to be at a dis­ad­van­tage to all my peers next year and hav­ing to play less events be­cause of quar­an­tine rules.”

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