Tackling issue of teenage drinkers
Hong Kong Sevens bosses have teamed up with a leading youth charity to tackle teenage binge drinking at the event.
The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) and the KELY Support Group will highlight the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption at the tournament, which takes place from March 23-25 at the Hong Kong Stadium.
Union chairman Trevor Gregory said the campaign would put the spotlight on an issue that had been a major worry for organisers.
'By partnering with the KELY Support Group we hope to help youths aged from 14 to 24 to enjoy the Hong Kong Sevens in the safest and most responsible manner,' Gregory said.
'This first-of-its-kind partnership with the KELY Support Group will help us engage local youth in the build-up to the Hong Kong Sevens on terms that they are familiar with and in a way that is relevant and engaging for them.'
Chung Tang, executive director of the KELY Support Group, stressed the campaign was not intended to spoil anyone's fun, but to encourage young people to drink responsibly.
They also want to make sure young fans are taken care of properly if they've had too much to drink, or if police have to act.
'It's important that we're proactive and co-ordinated as it really is a weekend where lots of binge drinking takes place,' he said. 'It can be very dangerous and teenagers can get themselves in trouble when they've had too much to drink.'
The campaign was started after recent studies showed irresponsible drinking by young Hongkongers is on the rise.
Even though no one under the age of 18 can legally consume alcohol in restaurants and bars, there is no age limit on the sale of alcoholic beverages outside venues with liquor licences. So, buying alcohol in Hong Kong is easier than elsewhere in the world, as it is sold in convenience stores and supermarkets.
The campaign also follows other initiatives by the union to ensure the safety of young fans inside the stadium, such as restricting admission to the always lively South Stand to those aged 18 and older in 2009.
The programme includes outreach to 63 local and international schools with a focus on the importance of making smart choices with alcohol and dealing with peer pressure.
'We'll have a marquee in the South Stand where there will be a chill-out section, so people can just have a sit down and rehydrate,' Chung said. 'It's where young people can relax and unwind without feeling the need to take more alcohol.'