Coro­n­avirus dis­rupts Sev­ens ros­ter

The Citizen (KZN) - - Sport -

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

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