Hong Kong Sevens: government ‘must spare no effort’ in ensuring event goes ahead in November, finance minister Paul Chan says
- Paul Chan Mo-po ramps up government support for long-awaited return of the city’s flagship sporting event
- Staging Sevens in November will ‘show vitality of the city’, says Chan during a video posted to his Facebook account
Hong Kong’s finance minister has said the government “must spare no effort” in helping to make sure the rugby sevens takes place in November.
Paul Chan Mo-po ramped up government support for the major sporting event while taking part in a game of touch rugby at a city primary school, a video of which was uploaded to his Facebook page on Friday.
In a post on the social media platform, the financial secretary said officials were working hard to ensure that the Hong Kong Sevens was a success and staging it would “show the vitality of the city”.
The comments may go some way to alleviating concerns among residents that a return to normal life in Hong Kong remained as far away as ever, especially given the continued delay in announcing a reduction in quarantine requirements for arrivals.
While Chan’s video was being posted online, the government was calling off a much-awaited press briefing – at which the announcement of an easing of quarantine was expected – over “unresolved technical issues”.
Chan had joined children from Xianggang Putonghua Yanxishe Primary School on Thursday for a quick introduction to rugby from Christy Cheng, a former member of the Hong Kong women’s team, and appeared to be thoroughly enjoying himself.
The minister ran drills with the children, where they passed a ball to each other, and then played for the boys’ blue team, against Cheng and the girls’ red team.
Discussing the experience in a quick one-on-one interview with Cheng afterwards, Chan said he found it “quite exciting. No wonder so many people like playing rugby.”
He continued: “The Hong Kong government must spare no effort to facilitate this event to be held in Hong Kong again, to show the vitality of Hong Kong.”
The video ended with Chan, Cheng and the children looking into the camera and shouting “see you at the Sevens”.
Writing on his Facebook page, Chan said he had invited the children to take part ahead of “Sport for All Day” on Sunday.
“The popular Hong Kong Sevens will be held in early November this year, and the SAR government is working hard to make this event successfully held in Hong Kong again,” he wrote.
A source told the Post the government was very much behind making the event happen, but was still working on the details surrounding fans coming from overseas, and the sale of food and drink at the stadium.
Chan has targeted November as an important time in the city’s emergence from its Covid-19 restrictions, with the minister planning a high-profile financial summit involving some of the world’s top business leaders.
However, the Hong Kong Rugby Union, which is responsible for organising the tournament, has said it expects to operate with some kind of closed loop in place for players and other staff.
The union previously said it would “continue to consult with the government” and planned on delivering the event “in compliance with the prevailing Covid measures in place at the time”.
Sports commissioner Yeung Tak-keung has already said that masks must be worn in the stands and the Hong Kong Stadium will be at 85 per cent capacity, meaning 34,000 fans a day can attend, although groups will be limited to eight people.
“We are confident we will see strong local demand to attend, and plenty of passionate support for all the participating teams,” the union said.
In the past, tickets to the tournament have been prized items, and this year is likely to be no exception. While prices have been frozen at 2019 levels, with a three-day pass costing HK$1,950, there will be no public ballot this time around and tickets will be available either through agents or member clubs.
Additional reporting by Ezra Cheung