Coronavirus disrupts Sevens roster
Hong Kong – Rugby’s Hong Kong and Singapore Sevens were postponed from April to October over the coronavirus yesterday, joining the Chinese Grand Prix, golf and football fixtures on the growing list of sporting casualties.
The decision, which disrupts sevens rugby in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics, was made “in response to continued health concerns relating to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak”, World Rugby said.
“The health and safety of our players, fans and everyone working on the event is always our highest priority,” it added in a statement.
The announcement comes a day after Formula One’s Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, scheduled for 19 April, was postponed, becoming the biggest single sports event affected by COVID-19 so far.
The flagship Hong Kong Sevens was slated for 3-5 April, with Singapore a week later. Both cities are scrambling to deal with the virus, with 50 confirmed cases each and one death in Hong Kong.
The Singapore tournament will now take place on 10-11 October and Hong Kong a week later on 16-18 October, concluding this year’s 10-stop world series.
The COVID-19 death toll leapt to 1 367 yesterday with nearly 60 000 infections in China, where the virus is thought to have emerged in the city of Wuhan.
The Hong Kong Sevens, held every northern hemisphere spring since 1976, is an important source of revenue and prestige for a city which has plunged into recession following months of pro-democracy protests and the US-China trade war.
The Hong Kong Sevens will return to its usual slot next year, the city’s rugby chief said, adding that he expected to sell out both the 2020 and 2021 tournaments even though they are just six months apart.
“We’re disappointed that in Hong Kong and China and globally we’re struggling with a big health issue, but we’re delighted that World Rugby were able to confer us this slot,” said HKRU chief executive Robbie McRobbie. – AFP