Newcastle to host world surf tour after Sydney quarantine
The world's leading surfers will be flown into Sydney for two weeks quarantine after Newcastle was awarded a leg of the world surfing tour in April.
A plane carrying the elite surfers to the Australian competition will fly in from LA after the World Surf League confirmed approval from the NSW Government to land a chartered flight and quarantine in Sydney ahead of the April 1 surfing event at Merewether Beach.
Australia is seen as a safe haven for athletes once they have satisfied quarantine rules and will now host four legs of the world surfing tour in 2021.
The world tour has already been disrupted with the cancellation of the Sunset event in Hawaii.
Running as many events as possible is crucial for the sport with surfing to make its Olympic debut in Tokyo later this year.
Sally Fitzgibbons, Stephanie Gilmore, Julian Wilson and Owen Wright are the surfers selected to compete for Australia in Tokyo.
The WSL has been working with the NSW Government to come to an agreement that will see all international competitors board a flight in Los Angeles and on arrival in Sydney undergo a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine.
Surfers and staff will then need to receive a medical clearance from public health officials before entering the general community and preparing for competition at Newcastle.
The WSL said it will implement "a robust and thorough COVID-19 health and safety plan'' for each of is events in Australia in accordance with federal and state guidance.
This will include physical distancing measures, temperature checks, enhanced high-touch cleaning at the event sites, contact tracing procedures, sanitiser stations throughout the event site, and minimal personnel on-site.
Merewether Beach has helped unearth some of Australia's best surfers, including Mark Richards, Luke Egan, Matt Hoy and Ryan Callinan.
"WSL is excited to be commencing the Australian leg of the CT at the world-class break in Newcastle," said WSL APAC General Manager, Andrew Stark.
"We sincerely thank the NSW Government for all of their support in not only holding a CT event but for also agreeing to land our flight and accommodating our quarantining international competitors. We're also extremely thankful for the support of the City of Newcastle to enable the event to proceed and we look forward to working with the local community in the delivery of the event."
The 2021 Newcastle Pro will not only be the first time world title points have been on offer at the location since 1991 but also the first combined male-and-female CT event to be held in NSW since the Coke Classic at Manly in 1999.
"The NSW government and World Surf League worked together to ensure that this competition went ahead," said NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro. "Sun, surf and sand are a way of life in our regional coastal towns and we're doing everything we can to ensure our coastal communities can reap the recreational, tourism and economic benefits that surfing provides."
Local Callinan said he was thrilled Newcastle is hosting the event.
"Every year we get some of the best surfers coming to Newcastle and for this year to be a championship tour event will make it that much more exciting,'' Callinan said. "Not just for myself but the whole surfing and wider community.
"I think everyone will really embrace this and love to see the best surfing in the world go down in our hometown.
"I feel I can speak for all the competitors that we are so excited to get the CT underway in a safe way and I couldn't be prouder to see it get underway in my home town."
An updated schedule and information on the other three world tour events in Australia is currently being worked on.
Originally published as Newcastle to host world surf tour after Sydney quarantine