Rugby League World Cup chief executive Jon Dutton is still confident that the tournament will go ahead this year, but admits he is keeping his fingers crossed before making a final decision, which he has previously committed to doing later this month.
Dutton is hoping the Covid-19 Delta variant, which is now the dominant variant causing new infections in England, can be brought under control, and that the government can stick to its vaccination targets between now and the start of the tournament in Newcastle on October 27.
He admits that perhaps his biggest concern centres on whether the World Cup will be able to draw on a full complement of players from the NRL, who will represent Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific nations who are set to compete in the tournament, but who have strong policies on quarantining and self-isolation.
If they were still in place by the time the tournament begins, it could persuade some players, or even some nations, not to participate.
“I didn’t realise when I took the job on that I would have to become such an expert in public health policies, and not just those of the British government,” Dutton told League Express.
“But I’m confident that we will be going ahead this year and I would be extremely reluctant to postpone the tournament until 2022.
“We have some great partnerships with all the tournament venues and local authorities, who are all committed to it taking place this year, as is the government.
“Our ticket sales have exceeded our expectations, although we realise that there is a body of supporters who are awaiting the final confirmation of the World Cup going ahead before they commit themselves.
“If we were to postpone it for a year, we would come up against the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which would pose its own problems.”
Last week RLWC2021 announced Pepsi MAX and Gatorade as the official soft drink and official sports drink of the tournament in a major sponsorship deals with Britvic.
And official logistics partner Kuehne+Nagel announced a new ‘Tree for a Try’ campaign to support the tournament’s commitment to delivering the most sustainable RL World Cup ever.
Kuehne+Nagel has pledged to plant a tree for every try scored in all 61 matches across the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments as part of their ongoing sustainability goals.
The trees will predominantly be planted in Brazil, aligning with the South American nation that will be competing in the women’s tournament for the first time.
Twenty one ceremonial trees will also be planted across the host towns and cities in England.
Meanwhile, England have released photos of the national team strip that will be worn by its three teams in this year’s World Cup.
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