The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) announced on its website on July 30 that the “Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens” rugby tournament has been approved by the Hong Kong government and will take place at the Hong Kong Stadium from Nov. 4-6, 2022. This will be the first leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023.
Due to the Hong Kong government’s social distancing measures on COVID-19, many major sports events have been postponed or canceled in Hong Kong for more than two years.
The Hong Kong Sevens have been suspended for more than three years.
Kevin Yeung Yun-hung, Secretary of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Hong Kong, pointed out that the “closed-loop system” will be used for players’ transportation between hotels and venues. He also mentioned that “sportsmen do not come to Hong Kong to get drunk.”
The Hong Kong Sevens has always been one of the major sports events in Hong Kong to attract international tourists and establish Hong Kong’s image in the tourism industry.
However, since it was held from April 5 to 7, 2019, it has been postponed repeatedly due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
According to various media reports, the government is determined to prioritize reopening borders to international tourists. The government also considers the Global Financial Leaders Investment Summit and Hong Kong Seven to be held in November as an opportunity to present “Hong Kong’s world city” to the rest of the world.
The government also said it would “succeed without failure” and described it as a “deadline” for the opening of Hong Kong to the international community.
Entry restrictions to Hong Kong must be eased by then.
HKRU said that since the tournament will be held in just three months, they will liaise with all stakeholders starting this week, announcing further event details, including ticketing information, shortly.
Patrick Donovan, chairman of the HKRU, said that he was confident that Hong Kong Sevens would be a very successful event as before.
He also admitted that the event had not been held for three and a half years, and they faced many difficulties at the initial stage. Still, he was confident that it would be an extraordinary event, “I am delighted to be able to once again tell the world— See you at the Sevens!”
In an interview with Commercial Radio Hong Kong, Kevin Yeung described the Hong Kong Sevens as a Hong Kong brand event.
He added, “maybe the general public misunderstood the tournament as a ‘carnival,’ thinking that the players come to Hong Kong for drinking, and their daily routines are irregular.”
Therefore, the Hong Kong Sevens to be resumed this year will be conducted in a “closed-loop system.”
The government will shuttle players between hotels and the stadium and hopes the local sports industry will continue developing professionally and gradually.
HKRU revealed in 2021 that due to the impact of the pandemic, the union suffered a loss of HK$200 million (approx. US$25 million), almost exhausting the union’s reserves.
To ensure the operations of the HKRU until the resumption of the Hong Kong Sevens in November, HKRU needs to save HK$30 million (US$ 3.8 million) in operating costs in the coming financial year and further reduce expenses, including the layoff of all 12 full-time staff, and reduction of the salaries of other staff. HKRU also immediately reduced the office’s size, subsidies for small-scale rugby clubs, and suspended rugby courses.
According to the World Series website Hong Kong is scheduled for a second leg in the 2023 series, from March 31 to April 2.
The 2023 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series is planned to take place over 11 legs, starting with the Hong Kong Sevens on Nov. 4-6, 2022, and finishing in London on May 20-21, 2023.
Because of COVID restrictions, the 2022 series was rather restricted, and new rules were introduced to account for the unusual situation. Taking these rules into account, South Africa won the series, followed by Australia, Argentina, and Fiji. The USA finished in sixth place ahead of England, France, and New Zealand (NZ only played four tournaments).