I did not raise false RWC hopes: Key - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

I did not raise false RWC hopes: Key

16/03/2011 07:14:47 PM Comments (0)

Accusations the Government raised false hope about the prospect of holding the Rugby World Cup in Christchurch are not true, Prime Minister John Key says.

After meeting with International Rugby Board (IRB) officials in Christchurch on Wednesday, Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully announced the city would not host any games because of damage caused by last month's earthquake.

Labour leader Phil Goff said the fact the games would have to be moved had been clear to everyone and accused Key of mishandling the issue.

"John Key has had engineering reports and information about the availability of accommodation for some time. Yet he has refused to make that information public," Goff said.

"The prime minister has handled this issue poorly. He's ended up giving false expectations that have now been dashed."

Addressing the criticism on Wednesday afternoon, Key said the Government had worked through the information methodically and as soon as it was available.

"No one wants to hold the Cup in Christchurch more than I do, but the reality is that we just can't put at risk the Rugby World Cup and we actually can't risk a bad experience for those coming from overseas."

The final decision was made after consultation with the IRB on Wednesday, he said.

"The early indications we received from those reports on Sunday night were that it was plausible that the stadium could be fixed, but there were unquantified risk that we wouldn't be aware of until the bleachers were taken off," Key said.

"There were also issues about what would happen in terms of resources and whether we'd ultimately be taking the resources away from the general rebuild of Christchurch for some very important infrastructure.

"It wasn't really until Monday that we started getting clear information on the hotels, and even now that information is not perfect, but it's enough for us to assess that we don't think there are enough beds to host all of the 35,000 international tourists that would come for the quarter-finals."

The IRB appeared to go into the process with open minds, Key said.

"They were quite happy to work with us, they weren't trying to bully us or overrule us."

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