HK Sevens chiefs aim to tackle the touts
Hong Kong Sevens organisers believe they have taken a key step towards beating the touts who plague the rugby showpiece.
Last year, 60 fans were refused entry to the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union event after flying in from as far away as Dubai and Sydney when stadium staff found their tickets were fake.
But HKRFU chiefs say their deal with online ticket provider Cityline has allowed them to introduce a modified ticket with enhanced security features to help beat the touts, who charged up to HK$3,000 per ticket for Saturday's action last year.
The union will be able to trace the source of any ticket sold by touts through information held by Cityline, local rugby clubs and other ticket distributors.
The union is also working closely with the Leisure and Cultural Services Department to identify touts and take action against them.
'During the event, union staff will patrol the environs surrounding the stadium to assist police in identifying potential ticket scalpers and report any occurrence to the relevant authorities for further action,' an HKRFU spokesman said.
'Any ticket offered on local or international websites or through channels outside of the union, our official overseas ticket agents, Cathay Pacific Airways or local rugby clubs are not guaranteed to be genuine and the union strongly discourages spectators from buying such tickets.'
The people refused entry to last year's event bought packages through the Australian website ticketfinders and ticketlist.com, based in the UK and Dubai.
Some spent up to HK$47,500 on tickets, hotels and air fares.
Press reports said touts had doubled the price of Saturday tickets on learning of the influx of fans with invalid tickets. Tickets for the less popular Sunday session were being sold for HK$1,500.
Criticism about ticket allocations has not abated, with some members of the local rugby community expecting to miss out despite the fact that 1,000 more tickets will be offered through rugby clubs in the city.
One member of the Hong Kong Football Club said he was allocated only one ticket, instead of the two he received last year. The father of a Colts player has not been guaranteed any tickets for the March 23-25 event at the Hong Kong Stadium.
However, the HKRFU spokesman made it clear that they had no input into the allocation of tickets by clubs to their members and fans. 'The actual allocation of tickets is a decision left entirely up to the individual rugby club,' he said.
Tickets for the three days of rugby action were sold to Hongkongers for HK$1,500 this year, up from HK$1,250. All 4,000 seats sold out within hours of going on sale.
The HKRFU's approved international travel agents are still offering packages for the event.
UK-based The Sporting Traveller is offering four-night hotel packages with flights from GBP1,265 (HK$15,215) with tickets costing an extra GBP126.
Australia's We Love Rugby is selling similar packages for A$2,165 (HK$17,523).