Korea tensions cloud Hong Kong rugby plans
Hong Kong's match against South Korea in the Asian Five Nations Top Five competition is under a cloud with the Asian Rugby Football Union (Arfu) and the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) concerned about tensions on the Korean peninsula.
The threat of war could force South Korea's two home games next month in the 2015 World Cup qualifying preliminaries against Hong Kong and the Philippines to be relocated.
"Right now we are playing a waiting game, constantly monitoring the situation on a daily basis," Trevor Gregory, vice-president of Arfu, said yesterday. "What is happening is not a pleasant situation and if things deteriorate we will have to consider moving the games."
Gregory, who is also HKRFU chairman, said the local governing body would look to the government for advice on whether it was safe to travel on May 18 to Ansan, a city a few kilometres south of Seoul, for the fourth and last game in this year's Asian Five Nations campaign.
"We will see if the government issues a travel advisory warning about travel to Korea," Gregory said.
"If that goes up, we will then seek an independent security report if going to South Korea is safe and then discuss it with the players. If a travel advisory warning does go up, and we decide to go, the players will have a choice of whether they want to go."
Hong Kong's other away game is against the Philippines on May 4. The irony is that the Hong Kong government has a "black" travel advisory warning against the Philippines - which denotes severe threat and advises avoiding all travel.
"As far as the HKRFU is concerned, we feel it is safe to play in Manila," Gregory said. "But it is a different issue with regard to the situation in Korea."
Hong Kong begin their Asian campaign on Saturday, hosting the United Arab Emirates at Hong Kong Football Club. The remaining fixtures are at home to Japan on April 27, and then against the Philippines and South Korea.
With next year being a 2015 World Cup qualifying year for Asia, Hong Kong's aim will be to remain in the top tier this season.