The billionaire owners of international America's Cup teams could be deemed "critical workers" in the eyes of the New Zealand Government - who have opened the doors for them to apply for border exemptions before the 2021 event.
This week, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) indicated that America's Cup teams can now apply for an exemption for their owners to enter New Zealand under the "other critical workers" category.
This border exemption category would enable Britain's richest man, Jim Ratcliffe, who owns Ineos Team UK, and the owner of luxury Italian fashion house Prada, Patrizio Bertelli, to enter New Zealand.
A Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team spokesperson told the Herald on Sunday this week that "Mr Bertelli is still considering his travel plans to New Zealand" in the lead-up to the America's Cup tournaments, which start in Auckland in December.
An Ineos Team UK spokesperson said: "No decision has been made on the attendance of the three team owners [the primary of whom is Ratcliffe] as yet."
Ratcliffe, 67, is worth $32 billion and founder of Ineos Chemicals group. He formed the Ineos Team UK team specifically to compete in the 2021 America's Cup, investing $215 million to do so.
Bertelli, 74, is worth $5b and is the chief executive of Prada Group. He has been involved with the America's Cup since 1997, when he established a Prada team to compete in the Auckland event in 2000.
An MBIE spokesperson said the border exemption category was because the America's Cup was a "Government-approved event".
Patrizio Bertelli and Max Sirena, of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team.
"It is up to individual syndicates whether their 'other critical worker' requests include the owners and senior figures of the team. All requests (and individuals included in that request) are assessed by INZ against the relevant border exception criteria."
The third competing international team is American Magic which is based out of the New York Yacht Club.
A spokesperson said they could not disclose any information about their discussions with MBIE on bringing their team leaders into New Zealand.
However, they said some American Magic principals were already with the team in Auckland.
In June, the New Zealand Government granted more than 400 border exemptions for Ineos Team UK and American Magic to bring in their racing staff and family members.
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team sailors and staff only left New Zealand quarantine last week, and were this weekend getting settled in their team base in the Viaduct Marina.
The team's monohull yacht also only arrived in Auckland last week after being transported by plane from Lombardy, Italy.
The 67-year-old Ratcliffe also owns the Mercedes AMG F1 team and the Team Ineos cycling team that won the 2019 Tour de France. He has also been linked to the purchase of English Premier League team Chelsea.
His company Ineos is one of the largest chemical companies in the world with annual sales of more than $100b.
Bertelli has a long history of attending America's Cup events. The Prada company which he runs with his wife, Miuccia Prada, has sponsored the Italian Luna Rossa team in the 2000, 2003, 2007 and 2013 America's Cup.
The luxury Italian fashion brand headquartered in Milan, brought in more than $5b in revenue in 2019.