A government recommendation on whether Rugby World Cup games can be hosted in Christchurch could be made as soon as Friday, Prime Minister John Key says.
Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully has received an initial engineering report on how much damage AMI Stadium sustained in last month's magnitude 6.3 earthquake, but is awaiting further information.
The International Rugby Board (IRB) has the final say on whether the scheduled five pool matches and two quarterfinals will go ahead.
The grounds at the stadium have been damaged after liquefaction during the February 22 quake, with silt piled up in some places. There may also be structural damage to the stadium.
Mr McCully needed to talk to Vbase which manages the stadium and other relevant parties, information would be pulled together and an assessment made, Mr Key told reporters this afternoon.
"I haven't seen all of the information... We all acknowledge it's challenging but that doesn't mean it's impossible."
He hoped to have a recommendation by Friday.
"The IRB are very keen to work in conjunction with us, they are accepting that we have the best available advice, and we are going to be realistic about that advice. If we can hold the cup there and do so in a professional way we will but if we can't then we will also give that honest up-front assessment."
New Zealand's international reputation as well as Christchurch's interests had to be taken into account.
The recommendation was likely to include options for hosting the games elsewhere which Mr Key said he expected Rugby World Cup New Zealand was working on.
Factors to be considered in making the recommendation would include accommodation, using rebuilding resources to work on the stadium, the extent of damage at the stadium and the ability to get the turf into good condition.
Previously Mr McCully said there was no plan B and all the focus was on the games going ahead in the city but that mood appears to have changed.
"If the recommendation goes against that it will be because it's not possible," Mr Key said.
Britain's Telegraph newspaper reported last week that there was "a growing sense that the IRB would have no choice but to take matches elsewhere".