‘Hong Kong rugby showcase to be full house’

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Hong Kong Rugby Union confident about full capacity event Image: Hong Kong Sevens

The Hong Kong Rugby Union Chief Executive Robbie McRobbie is brimming with confidence that the Hong Kong chapter of the 2021 World Rugby Sevens Series tournament will be a full house affair though the attendance of international spectators still remains hazy.

‘AustralAsian Leisure Management’ stated that McRobbie made the above comment while speaking at the Live! Matters 2021 online event. McRobbie said that he is “confident but not complacent” about hosting the rescheduled event in November, adding that they will be able to do so with a full stadium of fans.

The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) is the governing body for rugby union in Hong Kong. It was founded in 1952 and became affiliated to World Rugby in 1988. It organizes and oversees local rugby, including the annual Hong Kong Sevens tournament and the HKRU Premierships.

The tournament, which normally welcomes 50 percent of its spectators from overseas, has already been rescheduled from early April to November 5th to 7th at the end of last year as Hong Kong battled to contain its fourth wave of COVID-19.

McRobbie further stated in the online event, “We are confident we can sell out. The domestic demand is definitely out there and it’s far more than we have been able to satisfy and supply in the past, so we are confident that will help us to put the ‘sold out’ sign up.”

McRobbie’s confidence comes despite lingering uncertainty in the region, adding that the HKRU had been “planning for the worst” as COVID-19 infections continue to rise across Asia and India is presently being punched by the lethal virus which is taking a huge toll on lives.

He went on to say, “It’s like a moveable feast, but you don’t know how many people are invited to your feast and you don’t know what time the feast might end.”

The comments also raise concerns about the future of hosting spectator events across Asia, as countries grapple with the more deadly COVID-19 variants.

Singapore, which will host a rugby sevens leg in the week prior to Hong Kong, has gradually been welcoming spectators back with a series of events, including the HSBC Women’s World Championship held recently which was open to 250 corporate guests.

Lim Teck Yin, Chief Executive, Sport Singapore, said that countries should be working closer in respect to event hosting, taking advantage of the keenly awaited Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble which was announced recently and set to take off on May 26th.

Yin advised, “I think as the world begins to think about vaccination passports and international travel, it provides an impetus to figure out how we collaborate even more than we could perhaps have done in a pre-COVID world.”

He added that it was essential that they bring live events back to the region, but that it must “align with the national posture” at the time.

Football Marketing Asia Chief Executive Patrick Murphy suggested that such collaboration could lead to a “two-tier system” across the region, as territories with high levels of vaccinated residents and better coronavirus safety infrastructure start hosting spectator events before the rest.

Addressing Live! Matters, Murphy noted, “We could end up with places like Hong Kong and Singapore, and as things evolve Taiwan and Japan – places with high level of vaccination and very strong infrastructure – getting to enjoy events in each other’s territories.

Added Murphy, “But then you had a second tier of countries that have low vaccinations, it becomes more of a two-tier environment in Asia, which would be really sad, but maybe what happens.”

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