In a move sure to generate a furious reaction from local rugby fans, Hong Kong Sevens organisers have said it is "inevitable" that even fewer tickets will go on sale to the public next year.
This year, the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union reserved 4,000 tickets for public sale, which were distributed via a ballot. However, 50,000 tickets were applied for. Now even fewer will be available to local fans.
"It's inevitable. We are under increasing pressure from local rugby clubs for more tickets and it's here on the grassroots level of the game that we must always focus," union chairman Trevor Gregory explained. "Improving the infrastructure and development of the game here is our main goal."
The 4,000 tickets made available to the general public this year is down from 5,000 in 2011. Hong Kong Stadium has a capacity of 40,000. Gregory said that some people even thought that all the tickets should go to local rugby clubs, with none on sale to the local public, but he was adamant this would not be the case.
"When this year's event has finished, we'll sit down and review the situation, but it's just a fact of life that this will happen.
"It'll still mean that the large majority of Sevens tickets will be sold locally. More will just go to local rugby clubs."
To clarify the ticketing situation last year, the union issued a breakdown of the figures.
At that time, local rugby clubs and the local community got 45 per cent; 14 per cent went to international sales; official sponsors and HKRFU patrons got 18 per cent; Rugby Union Club members got 5 per cent; stakeholders got 2 per cent; the International Rugby Board and participating teams got 3 per cent; stadium suite sales got 3 per cent; and public sales accounted for a further 10 per cent.
"These figures show that 83 per cent of the tickets are sold locally," Gregory said.
The current price of a three-day weekend ticket of $1,500 will also be reviewed after the tournament, but the public-ticket ballot system will remain for now.
Touts were generally charging HK$2,500 for yesterday's play and HK$1,800 for today's finale.