Spectators at the Hong Kong Sevens yesterday described their fears of being crushed as they tried to squeeze into walkways narrowed by newly built corporate boxes.
The sprawling block of corporate suites was erected this year above the North Stand, which has only three narrow ground-floor entrances. The extension encroaches into the public thoroughfare just a few metres from the stadium's main entrance.
Fears that a crush could ensue emerged when the famous Beach Boys group took to the stage. Fans seeking to get a good view tried to enter the stand, but instead rammed into people making their way along the narrow thoroughfare. No one was reported injured. The father of a young boy, who declined to be named, said his son was terrified.
"It was bedlam. There was no way in or out," John Gregory from Singapore said. "It was putting people's lives at risk."
Witnesses said a key problem was people were lining up inside the stadium's main entrance to get their hands stamped, so they could exit the ground and return.
"Re-entry issues … caused a bottleneck and that's where the problem started," said Hong Kong Rugby Football Union chairman Trevor Gregory.
"Everyone all converged on each other at the same time, but because of the new corporate boxes there was no space for people to move. It's lucky someone wasn't seriously injured."
"It was a challenge to go from the east or the west, because there was this stand in this way," local resident Fiona Foxon said. "All I could do was turn around."