Shame about the view, but Sevens teams train on
Alvin Sallay and Patrick Allen
Despite the pollution, it was business as usual for the early arrivals for the Hong Kong Sevens this weekend - their only complaint being that the view of the city was spoiled.
'We're fine. There is no problem at all about the pollution and we won't be cutting back on our training,' said Brent Johnston, manager of the Canadian team. 'The only problem is we are not able to see how beautiful this city is.'
A Zimbabwean official said: 'It is a pity we cannot see anything from our rooms when we look out across the water. Training is no problem.'
Most of the 23 overseas teams playing at the Sevens arrived yesterday. Canada, Portugal and Zimbabwe, who came over the weekend, practised despite local rugby officials issuing a warning that pollution levels were high.
'As the event organiser, the safety of our teams and spectators is the paramount concern of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union. We will take every reasonable precaution and have informed the teams of the pollution levels,' Warrick Dent, Hong Kong Sevens tournament director, said.
'In the interests of player safety, we will continue to monitor the API index on a regular basis. Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to train will be at the discretion of the participating teams,' Dent said.
Teams who have arrived for the Hong Kong Football Club Tens as well as the Kowloon RugbyFest, the traditional opening events to the Sevens, also trained yesterday, including the Aliens, defending champions at the Tens, and Rwanda, who will be appearing at the RugbyFest tomorrow.
But a rugby clinic involving the Aliens and students at the Australian International School was moved indoors after the school followed the advice of the Education Bureau.
All the top teams, including New Zealand, Samoa, Australia, England and Fiji arrived last night from Adelaide where the last leg of the IRB Sevens Series took place last weekend. They all have scheduled training runs this morning.
Meanwhile, the poor air quality would not affect the race meeting at Sha Tin tomorrow night, a Jockey Club vet said last night. Dr Brian Stewart, head of veterinary regulation, said: 'The club will continue to monitor the weather situation but there is no change to any programming.'
It may prove to be a lucky break in programming for the Jockey Club, with the vast majority of Wednesday night meetings held at Happy Valley where air quality is worse, according to the Environmental Protection Department.