30 Sep 2021

Government unable to reveal cost of MIQ subsidies for sports teams

6:46 am on 30 September 2021

Officials don't know how much they've splashed out on MIQ subsidies for international sports teams.

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Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

That's despite agreeing to pay potentially millions of dollars, so 448 international rugby, cricket and netball players could have bespoke isolation arrangements in September last year.

Documents sourced by RNZ show the government asked teams to chip in $7000 per person, when the estimated cost of their MIQ stay was up to $22,000 per-person - including tailored meals and exemptions to access nearby training grounds.

It was estimated that taxpayers would need to pay about $2.7 million for players in the Rugby Championship to stay in MIQ - and $1.5 million for players in the Summer of Cricket event.

The government stopped subsidising sports teams MIQ stays on 1 August.

"Over time we have refined our approach, as we learn more about the costs involved in providing this service," explained Joint Head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine, Brigadier Rose King in a statement.

However officials couldn't say what those costs had been to date, when RNZ asked how much sports teams had paid and how much the government had paid. Rose King said "it is not possible to identify the exact amount per team and collectively."

"In part, this is because it's not a straightforward exercise to identify how much of MIQ's costs - such as security - are attributable to a specific sports team," she said.

She noted the true cost of accommodating sports teams was probably lower than the government's original estimates, because at the time costs were calculated it had been looking at setting up a dedicated sports MIQ hotel.

However for teams with training exemptions, the cost would still be more than a regular returnee.

King said there was the cost of exclusively accessing the sports grounds and equipment, plus "associated costs relating to additional security and other measures for infection prevention and control."

"In addition... some teams have also requested the ability to train on-site in open-air gym facilities, the use of exercise equipment in their rooms, additional nutritional requirements and snacks/meals, and team room facilities."

She said the government originally asked for $7000 per player "to provide the teams greater clarity in advance in relation to costs. "

"When this fee was first set up, we did not have detailed information on the actual costs incurred as a result of facilitating this type of training, and it hadn't been done before in an MIQ setting."

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