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Hong Kong Rugby Union ‘confident’ that 2021 World Rugby Sevens Series will run with capacity crowds

Hong Kong Rugby Union ‘confident’ that 2021 World Rugby Sevens Series will run with capacity crowds
May 1, 2021

Hong Kong Rugby Union Chief Executive Robbie McRobbie is confident that the Hong Kong edition of 2021 World Rugby Sevens Series tournament will go ahead with full-capacity crowds, despite uncertainty around the attendance of international spectators.

Speaking at the Live! Matters 2021 online event, McRobbie said that he is “confident but not complacent” about hosting the rescheduled event in November, adding that they will be able to do so with a full stadium of fans.

The tournament, which normally welcomes 50% of its spectators from overseas, has already been  rescheduled from early April to 5th to 7th November at the end of last year as Hong Kong battled to contain its fourth wave of the Coronavirus pandemic.

McRobbie told viewers “we are confident we can sell out.

“The domestic demand is definitely out there and its far more than we have been able to satisfy and supply in the past, so we are confident that will help us to put the ‘sold out’ sign up.”

McRobbie’s confidence comes despite lingering uncertainty in the region, adding that HKRU had been “planning for the worst” as COVID-19 infections continue to rise across Asia.

He went on to say, it’s like a moveable feast, but you don’t know how many people are invited to your feast and you don’t what time the feast might end.”

The comments also raise concerns about the future of hosting spectator events across Asia, as countries grapple with varying degrees of COVID-19 infection rates.

Singapore, which will host a rugby sevens leg in the week prior to Hong Kong, has gradually been welcoming spectators back with a series of events, including the HSBC Women’s World Championship last weekend, open to 250 corporate guests.

Lim Teck Yin, Chief Executive of Sport Singapore, said that countries should be working closer in respect to event hosting, taking advantage of the keenly awaited Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble was announced earlier this week and set to take off on 26th May.

Yin advised “I think as the world begins to think about vaccination passports and international travel, it provides an impetus to figure out how we collaborate even more than we could perhaps have done in a pre-COVID world.”

He added that it was essential that they bring live events back to the region, but that it must “align with the national posture” at the time.

As reported by the SportBusiness website, the city is due to play host to the Singapore Badminton Open from 1st to 6th June, as well as the AFC Cup 2021 group games between 29th June and 5th July.

Football Marketing Asia Chief Executive Patrick Murphy suggested that such collaboration could lead to a “two-tier system” across the region, as territories with high levels of vaccinated residents and better coronavirus safety infrastructure start hosting spectator events before the rest.

Addressing Live! Matters, Murphy noted “we could end up with places like Hong Kong and Singapore, and as things evolve Taiwan and Japan - places with high level of vaccination and very strong infrastructure - getting to enjoy events in each other’s territories.

“But then you had a second tier of countries that have low vaccinations, it becomes more of a two-tier environment in Asia, which would be really sad, but maybe what happens.”

Images: Crowds at the Hong Kong edition of the World Rugby Sevens in 2018 (top) and rugby at the Singapore National Stadium (below).

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