[Hong Kong, 4 August 2021]: Given growing uncertainty over emerging coronavirus variants and on-going travel restrictions globally, the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) and World Rugby have taken the difficult decision to cancel the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2021, which was scheduled for 5-7 November.
The decision follows detailed and constructive dialogue with World Rugby and the participating unions and relevant Hong Kong government bodies and has been taken with the health and wellbeing of the rugby community and the wider public as top priority.
The HKRU has exerted significant efforts to stage the tournament in 2021, including consulting professional medical advisors, and planning to implement physically distanced seating, full on-ground bubbling of teams and operations staff, and a split in schedule into daily time-limited sessions to allow for enhanced venue sanitizing.
However, the difficulties and uncertainties around travel restrictions and the rising global concern over emerging variants, combined with the pressing timelines behind staging one of Hong Kong’s premier international events - now just 92 days out from kick-off - made hosting the tournament to the HKRU’s exacting standards unfeasible.
Continued restrictions around international travel have significantly complicated the participation of numerous teams for November, including those from high-risk travel areas that are forbidden from entering Hong Kong at present. Increasing domestic lockdowns and tightening quarantine restrictions around outbound travel present further complications for teams from across the world.
The HKRU remains fully supportive of community virus suppression efforts in Hong Kong, and its paramount interest is to avoid any risk to the safety of athletes, officials, spectators and staff, and the wider community at the present time.
“We are of course disappointed not to host the world-famous Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens in 2021,” said Mr Robbie McRobbie, Chief Executive of the HKRU.
“While in many ways we are even better prepared to host than we were a year ago, concerns over the Delta variant and intensifying travel restrictions have complicated matters significantly. Given these trends, the decision to cancel was painful, but not difficult, particularly with expectations high that with vaccination rates increasing daily, we can welcome the Sevens back in true rugby style in April.
“After watching a stirring Olympic sevens, we know that fans will be disappointed at this news, but rest assured, we are busy preparing for a spectacular Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens in exactly 239 days, but who’s counting? We are already planning 2022, and looking forward to returning with an event that will be one of the most memorable in our 45-year history.
“We’re also very encouraged by the progress Hong Kong has made in suppressing the virus. Given the success of these community-wide efforts, thousands of players from four to 40-plus can look forward to the return of rugby at the end of summer. For some this will be the first competitive action they have had in over a year, so we are also busy planning a very special season ahead,” added McRobbie.
No tickets were placed on sale for the 2021 tournament.
The HKRU remains appreciative of the significant and sustained efforts exerted by all parties including the participating teams, World Rugby, other tournament hosts, HKRU commercial partners, and of course the athletes themselves.
The 2022 Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens is scheduled for 1-3 April.
Released on behalf of the Hong Kong Rugby Union by Elite Step Asia. For further information please contact Sean Moore (English-language media) or Andy Yeung (Chinese-language media) on +852 28080977 or +852 2808 0767 or by email on [email protected] or [email protected]