Fifth delay pushes Hong Kong Sevens to late 2022

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Blitzboks (Images courtesy of official Springbok Sevens)
Blitzboks (Images courtesy of official Springbok Sevens)

Hong Kong's famous rugby sevens tournament has been postponed to November 2022, organisers announced on Tuesday, the fifth delay to the showpiece event since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

The city has been largely cut off from the outside world for around 20 months, the government tying Hong Kong's fortunes to China's "zero-Covid" strategy.

Officials have warned that strict quarantine rules are unlikely to ease until summer 2022 at the earliest.

Robbie McRobbie, chief executive of the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU), said in a statement on Tuesday that organisers could not guarantee "all participating teams can be allowed to travel and the ability to host the event to our own high standard" by April next year as planned.

While expressing "staunch support" for the city government's anti-virus measures, McRobbie warned that the longer the event is delayed, the higher the risk it will disappear from international calendars.

The latest postponement takes the event's total delay to two years - the longest that the Hong Kong Sevens has suffered since it was established in 1976.

The international financial hub's continued Covid isolation, while rivals gradually open up, has caused concerns and criticism from the business community and general public.

Last month, the annual Hong Kong Marathon was allowed to resume, with the number of participants slashed by three-quarters, to 18 500.

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