The number of applications for the handful of public tickets on offer for the Hong Kong Sevens has plunged by more than 50 per cent year on year after the latest cut in the allocation.
Some 21,673 people applied for the 3,000 tickets available for each day of the three-day event at the 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium, the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union said yesterday as it completed the allocation ballot.
Last year, 50,000 applications were received for 4,000 three-day passes. Some 5,000 passes were available in 2011.
The union this year offered tickets for individual days, rather than all three, in the hope more members of the public would have the chance to catch some of the action along with the sponsors, rugby club members and international visitors who will make up the bulk of the crowd for the March 28-30 tournament.
But the majority of applicants sought the maximum two tickets for each of the three days, generating 111,457 individual requests for the 9,000 tickets available.
The union said that left eight out of every 100 applicants with the chance to watch the tournament, about the same proportion as last year, although applicants were not guaranteed tickets for all three days.
The union offered no explanation for the drop in applications, but said the majority of tickets still went to locals.
Tickets allocated to sponsors, local rugby clubs and the ballot made up 92 per cent of the total, it said. Six per cent went to overseas ticketing agents and two per cent to the participating teams.
Hong Kong's 56 rugby clubs have 10,000 registered players, and club officials confirmed the appetite for Sevens tickets remained as strong, if not stronger, than ever.
"There is more interest in the Sevens," said Jung Ho-jung, head coach of the Tin Shui Wai Pandas. "A lot of people are coming from overseas… they've been asking for more tickets. I know the locals are not happy, but it helps the economy," Jung said.