Try again: Hong Kong Rugby Sevens rescheduled as coronavirus claims another early-2020 sporting event
Two legs of the World Rugby Sevens Series have fallen victim to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, with the Singapore and Hong Kong legs of the series postponed, it was announced Thursday.
News agency Reuters reports that the outbreak has killed more than 1,300 people in China, with tens of thousands more people also infected by the spread of the virus, which has forced sports organizers across the region to reassess their plans for their marquee events in the coming months.
The Singapore Sevens tournament, which was scheduled to take place on April 11-12, has been pushed back to October 10-11, while the prestigious Hong Kong Sevens has been moved to October 16-18.
The Hong Kong event is one of the most colorful sporting events in the Asian sports calendar, with fans packing the stands in their traditional fancy dress for the huge sporting and social celebration.
Although tournament organizers did not feel confident enough to maintain the original Singapore and Hong Kong dates on the calendar, they were happy to be able to push them back to later in the year, rather than cancel them outright.
“The health and safety of our players, fans and everyone working on the event is always our highest priority,” said World Rugby in a statement.
“This prudent decision… was taken based on the World Health Organisation and relevant public authority travel and health guidelines. (It)… is fully supported by stakeholders, including unions and commercial partners.”
The Singapore and Hong Kong rounds of the series were viewed as key pre-tournament proving grounds for rugby’s top nations ahead of the Olympic tournament at the Tokyo Games from 27 July to 1 August.
The Hong Kong tournament is also set to break new ground by hosting a joint Sevens Series competition for both men and women as World Rugby expands the women’s series from six tournaments to eight.
The postponed Sevens tournaments join a growing list of sports events that have either been rescheduled, suspended or canceled outright as a result of the coronavirus, with the World Indoor Athletics Championships and the Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix both suspended amid health fears.