Shanghai Sevens a must-win for Hong Kong
This weekend's Shanghai Sevens is a must-win for Hong Kong if they are to keep alive hopes of being crowned Asian champions - and with it earn a ticket to the London Sevens.
Japan pulled out of the tournament because the Asian Rugby Football Union were not able to guarantee their safety given the tension between Tokyo and Beijing at present.
In place of Shanghai points, they will be awarded the average of the points they earned in Borneo and earn in the final leg in Mumbai next month.
This means a win in Mumbai will guarantee they retain their Asian title - and to stop them, Hong Kong will have to win in Shanghai and Mumbai.
"The fact that the winners of this series will be going to London is a massive incentive. This is a huge opportunity for us but what it means is that we have to win the Shanghai Sevens to keep our hopes alive," coach Dai Rees said.
"We have been given two bites of the cherry by the IRB - the first being a direct entry by winning this series, and the second by finishing in the top [four] of the qualifying competition at the Hong Kong Sevens. It is very rare that an Asian side gets the opportunity to play in London."
The revamped tournament means Hong Kong will have to play two extra games in the preliminary round.
"This suits us. We are one of the fittest teams around and four pool games give us some room to make a comeback in case we slip up and lose a match," Rees said.
Hong Kong kick off today against Singapore then face Sri Lanka and South Korea.