The New Zealand government announced Tuesday it was taking over control of the Auckland waterfront to ensure public safety during the six—week Rugby World Cup, the biggest sporting event in the country’s history.

An estimated 200,000 people poured into the harbourside city for a pop concert and fireworks display before the first match of the 20—nation tournament on Friday and chaos erupted as harbour ferries, trains and buses were halted after being swamped by fans.

Many were crushed in queues trying to get into the specially designated fans zone on Queen’s Wharf, which has a maximum capacity of 12,000. Auckland City Hospital’s emergency department reported a traffic jam of ambulances when 26 carrying people needing treatment arrived in one hour at the peak.

New Zealand is expecting 95,000 foreign tourists during the tournament and after reports that 2,000 people missed the opening ceremonies at a suburban Auckland stadium Prime Minister John Key said the government was anxious to ensure everything went smoothly.

Murray McCully, a cabinet minister designated with responsibility for the cup, said the government would take complete control of the waterfront from the Auckland City Council and enlarge the fan zones to include two other wharfs.

Keywords: Rugby World Cup

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