Hong Kong Rugby Sevens again, however Covid guidelines stay

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The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens match kicks off Friday for the primary time since Covid-19 hit.

Whereas the town’s pandemic laws stay strict, Chris Brooke, chairman of the Hong Kong Rugby Union, claimed demand to attend the occasion stays excessive.

“I feel persons are trying ahead to a enjoyable weekend. These restrictions are there however I do not suppose it takes away from the important thing substances of the Sevens — which is nice rugby, leisure and a enjoyable weekend,” Brooke stated. 

The match will probably be held on the 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium, however the authorities has capped seats at 85% capability, permitting solely as much as 34,000 spectators every day. Brooke stated about 26,500 tickets have been offered and a majority of attendees are prone to be Hong Kong residents.

Earlier than the pandemic, the three day sporting occasion might simply draw a complete of 120,000 spectators. In 2019, abroad guests accounted for half of attendees and the match contributed roughly 400 million Hong Kong {dollars} ($50 million) to the town’s financial system, in response to Reuters.

As an alternative of the same old 24 groups, solely 16 groups will probably be competing on the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens this 12 months. There may also be no ladies’s match this time round.

The Fiji group has received the match 5 instances in a row and can play their first match towards Japan on Friday.

The principles

Regardless of regional neighbors abandoning most of their Covid-19 measures, lots of Hong Kong’s pandemic guidelines stay in place.

On the match, spectators will probably be seated in teams of 12 and should preserve their face masks on always when they don’t seem to be consuming meals or drinks, in response to the Hong Kong Sevens web site. 

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In accordance with authorities’s guidelines, attendees are required to current their Depart Residence Secure Vaccine Go and a photograph of a speedy antigen take a look at with their title and date, the positioning stated. 

Gamers are additionally topic to Covid laws and should keep inside a quarantine bubble, much like how athletes had been stored secure throughout the Winter Olympics in Beijing earlier this 12 months. 

“They’re very optimistic about being right here … They’re very glad to undergo that course of to verify they’ll get on the pitch,” stated Brooke. 

Navigating the foundations has been troublesome for the Hong Kong Rugby Union, which depends on the Rugby Sevens for many of its income. 

Brooke stated the group needed to considerably minimize spending over the past two years and slashed headcount by 50%. 

“We have at all times been conscious of the reliance on the Sevens and we have at all times been making an attempt to cut back that pre-Covid as properly … We acknowledge that we have to take a look at different income streams,” Brooke stated.

“It’s fairly difficult, however I feel the main target going ahead will probably be to make sure that we have got an excellent steadiness between the Sevens earnings and different income sources,” he added. 

Nonetheless, Brooke is optimistic that the rugby union is shifting in the precise course and is hoping for an excellent mixture of native and worldwide spectators in 2023. 

“It would be nice if we are able to get these main occasions going over the subsequent three to 4 months as a result of I feel it actually helps the area people and clearly helps [Hong Kong’s] standing as a global hub.” 

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