Hong Kong Sevens
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Fans dressed in costume cheer in the South Stand on the last day of the 2019 Hong Kong Sevens, at Hong Kong Stadium. Photo: K. Y. Cheng

Rugby chief confident Hong Kong Sevens will go ahead in April after inclusion on World Series calendar

  • World Rugby earmarks Hong Kong for rejigged 2021-22 season, despite tight Covid-19 restrictions still being in place
  • Hong Kong Rugby Union ‘monitoring the situation’ and remains in ‘close discussion with government on best practices’

The Hong Kong Rugby Union expects to fulfil its April 2022 berth on the World Sevens Series calendar, despite tight Covid-19 restrictions still being in place.

Rugby’s governing body officially confirmed last week that the Hong Kong Sevens is set to return from a two-year hiatus, in its traditional slot on the first weekend of April.

The city is still under tight quarantine controls, however, with Hong Kong’s sevens team receiving a rare exemption from the government after returning from competing in Canada last month.
It is also uncertain whether overseas fans will be allowed to fly in for the event, or if social distancing measures will be in place inside the 40,000 capacity Hong Kong Stadium. The annual showpiece reportedly injected HK$380 million into the city’s economy in 2017, with 120,000 spectators – more than half of them visitors – filing in to watch over three days of competition.
Fiji’s Vilimoni Botitu fends off Gabin Villiere of France in the 2019 Cup final match. Photo: K. Y. Cheng

“Given Hong Kong’s overall success in combating the coronavirus in the community, we believe the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens can be held in 2022, and that fans will respond positively to the return of the city‘s flagship sporting event,” HKRU chief executive Robbie McRobbie told the Post, however

World Rugby has revealed a full schedule for the rejigged 2021-22 men’s and women’s Sevens Series, which get under way in Dubai next month.

The men’s teams are set to compete in Los Angeles in March, though, and it is uncertain if players will be subject to the usual 21-day hotel quarantine upon arriving in Hong Kong from the US, which is categorised as a high-risk country for Covid-19 by the government.

“We are encouraged by the resumption of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and the uniformly-high vaccination rates among World Rugby Sevens athletes and officials,” McRobbie said.

“We’re proud that our organisation and our elite sevens athletes are also 100 per cent vaccinated.”

Fiji celebrate winning the Cup final against France at the 2019 Hong Kong Sevens. Photo: Sam Tsang

“We continue to closely monitor the situation and update our extensive preparations for hosting in April 2022, and remain in close discussion with World Rugby and the government on best practices,” McRobbie added.

The Hong Kong Sevens – considered the premier tournament on the calendar – was last held in 2019, with last April’s event scrapped during the onset of the global pandemic.

Two attempts at hosting the event later in the calendar year in 2020 and 2021 were also scratched, with the men’s series truncated to six and two events respectively during the last two seasons.