Coronavirus forces postponement of Hong Kong Sevens
Coronavirus forces postponement of Hong Kong Sevens
Fiji commemorate success in the 2019 Hong Kong Sevens
15 February, 2020, 22:04
The Premier League's rising stars will be denied the chance to play at the prestigious Hong Kong Soccer Sevens this year because of the coronavirus and ongoing civil unrest.
Commuters wearing face masks as a precautionary measure to protect against the possible spread of a SARS-like virus outbreak ride an escalator at an MTR subway station ahead of the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong on 23 January 2020.
The Hong Kong Sevens was due to take place in the former British colony on April 3-5, but organisers are now hoping the event can be rescheduled to October.
The Hong Kong Sevens, which arguably popularised and globalised the shortened version of rugby in the 1990s, is considered the marquee stop on the 10-tournament circuit.
Latest reports show China has 44,653 coronavirus cases and 1,113 confirmed deaths.
The Fiji Men's and Women's 7s sides may have to play some matches against worldwide sides to try and fill the gap after the postponement of the Hong Kong and Singapore Sevens due to the threat of coronavirus.
Fiji have won five consecutive Hong Kong Sevens titles.
In a statement, World Rugby say that the health and safety of the players, fans and everyone working on the event is always their highest priority.
The events are seen as key to teams' preparations for the Tokyo Olympics rugby sevens competitions, which run from July 27-Aug. 1.
"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.
The colourful, three-day tournament, a guaranteed sell-out, is the signature event of the sevens series and was a driving force behind the sport's Olympic inclusion.
The Chinese Grand Prix and World Athletics Indoor Championships, which were both due to held next month, have joined tennis, football and golf in facing postponements and cancellations as a result of the virus.
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