Victims of both the Japan and New Zealand earthquakes will be remembered at the Hong Kong Sevens, with organisers planning to raise funds for both tragedies.
'We were planning to do something for the Christchurch tragedy, but now with the Japan disaster, we will have to plan how we can include that too,' Hong Kong Rugby Football Union chairman Trevor Gregory said yesterday. 'It is a terrible situation having two catastrophes in one year. We hope to make an appropriate gesture at the sevens.'
Gregory confirmed that Asian Games champions Japan would play at the March 25-27 tournament at Hong Kong Stadium, the fifth leg of the IRB Sevens World Series.
'I spoke to Koji Tokumasu [Japan Rugby Football Union chief executive] today and he has said the national team are still committed to Hong Kong,' Gregory said. 'But the JRFU is on a watching brief, with the situation very critical.'
A Japan school rugby team left for Scotland a few days ago and rugby officials are keen to carry on with life despite the disaster. The Tokyo Sevens, a new international tournament on April 16-17 featuring 12 teams including New Zealand, Samoa and Fiji, will still go ahead.
The Japan 15s national team, who are preparing for the Rugby World Cup later this year in New Zealand, will host only one game in this season's Asian Five Nations, with organisers playing the game against Kazakhstan in Bangkok.
Fears of a nuclear meltdown also prompted the Hong Kong rowing squad to return a day earlier than planned from a training camp in Kawabe in central Japan.
'We decided to come home a day earlier as we were concerned about the nuclear crisis,' Hong Kong head coach Chris Perry said after the 16-strong squad landed at Chek Lap Kok yesterday. 'Our thoughts are with the Japanese people. It is a huge tragedy.'
'It was quite scary, even where we were. All the buildings shook and our hotel swayed. I was on the seventh floor and I didn't know what to do, whether to run out or just stay put. In the end I decided to just stay where I was. It lasted for about two minutes.'
The Hong Kong squad, including top male sculler Law Hiu-fung and female counterpart Li Ka-man, had been training with the Japan national squad for 10 days.