Steep seating at stadium causing worries
By RACHEL CLARKE
STEEP banks of seating could be a hazard at this weekend's Hongkong Sevens tournament, a police chief has warned.
The deputy district commissioner for Wan Chai, Senior Superintendent Martin Samson said that the area of concern was in the upper seating, which was quite steep.
''Maybe it was designed for people to go in and watch a football match and then leave,'' he said.
''It is not designed for people to charge about between games.'' Superintendent Samson said the situation would improve next year when proper seating had been installed.
Nearly 500 police officers and army stewards will be on duty to ensure safety at the unfinished Hongkong Stadium in So Kon Po where 33,000 rugby fans will congregate for the annual sporting and social event.
The Hongkong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) has taken account of conditions at the stadium, which is in the middle of an $850 million facelift, and said extra safety measures had been taken.
Alcohol will be banned on the upper tier and extra stewards will be on hand to help spectators up and down the narrow steps and to remove any troublemakers.
The back rows will be roped off because the stadium is unfinished.
HKRFU chairman Mr Stuart Leckie, who yesterday toured the stadium, said he thought the upper tier would be more popular with families than with groups who wanted to drink.
''We have been assured that all safety standards are being met and we are taking extra precautions this year,'' he said.
About 200 police officers will be on duty inside and outside the stadium together with 250 stewards from the Black Watch regiment, but Superintendent Samson expects few difficulties over the weekend.
The completion of the stadium in time for next year's Sevens will not change the traditional seating arrangements, Mr Leckie said yesterday.
''All the seats will be numbered, but that will be for other events,'' he said.
''The tickets will still be one price and people will be free to meet up with their friends or come early for the good seats.''