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Hong Kong Rugby Sevens back, but Covid rules remain


High demand for Hong Kong Rugby League despite Covid regulations: Hong Kong Rugby Federation

The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens tournament opens on Friday for the first time since the Covid-19 hit.

While the city’s pandemic regulations remain strict, Chris Brooke, chairman of the Hong Kong Rugby Federation, stated demand for the event remains high.

“I think everyone is looking forward to a good weekend. Those limitations are there but I don’t think it takes away from the key ingredients of Sevens – great rugby, entertainment and a fun weekend. looks,” Brooke said.

The tournament will be held at the 40,000-capacity Hong Kong Stadium, but the government has limited the seating to 85%, allowing only a maximum of 34,000 spectators per day. Brooke said about 26,500 tickets were sold and the majority of attendees were likely Hong Kongers.

Before the pandemic, the 3-day sporting event could easily attract a total of 120,000 spectators. In 2019, foreign visitors accounted for half of the attendees, and the tournament contributed around HK$400 million ($50 million) to the city’s economy, Reuters.

Instead of the usual 24 teams, only 16 teams will compete in this year’s Hong Kong Rugby Sevens. There will also be no women’s tournaments around this time.

Team Fiji has won the tournament five times in a row and will play its first match against Japan on Friday.

Rules

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According to government regulations, attendees are required to present a Leave Safe House Vaccine Card and a snapshot of a rapid antigen test with their name and date, the website says.

Players must also follow Covid regulations and stay in isolation bubbles, similar to how athletes were kept safe during the Winter Olympics in Beijing earlier this year.

“They’re very positive about being here… They’re happy to go through that process to make sure they can get on the pitch,” Brooke said.

Adjusting the rules has been difficult for the Hong Kong Rugby Federation, which relies on Rugby Ovens for most of its revenue.

Brooke said the organization has had to significantly cut spending over the past two years and cut staff by 50%.

“We’ve always been aware of our reliance on Sevens, and we’ve always tried to reduce that before Covid… We realized we needed to look at alternative revenue sources,” says Brooke.

“It’s been quite challenging, but I think the focus going forward will be on making sure we have a good balance between Sevens’ earnings and other revenue streams,” he added.

However, Brooke remains optimistic that the rugby union is on the right track and hopes to have a good mix of local and international audiences in 2023.

“It would be great if we could organize these big events over the next three to four months because I think it really helps the local community and obviously helps [Hong Kong’s] status as an international hub. ”

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