The Blitzboks will have another tournament to conquer during the 2022-23 World Rugby Sevens Series with the Hong Kong Sevens back on the calendar after a three-year hiatus.
The Asian leg of the Series circuit was last held in 2019 but organisers on Saturday confirmed the return of the popular event.
The Asian finance hub has been cut off from the world for more than two years as it hews to its own version of China’s strict lockdown.
International flights remain well below pre-lockdown levels and all arrivals must currently undergo a week of mandatory hotel quarantine.
The restrictions have hammered Hong Kong’s economy.
But the Hong Kong Sevens is now set to be the city’s first major international sports competition to receive an official green light.
The tournament, a highlight of the global sevens circuit that regularly drew thousands of tourists, will be held from 4-5 November.
“After three-and-a-half years without a sevens [competition] I am confident this will be a very special event,” Hong Kong Union chair Patrick Donovan said.
The rugby union earlier proposed to the government that the tournament be held using a closed-loop system that would isolate athletes, support staff and venue personnel for seven days leading up to the event.
Organisers said they received government approval and will continue to consult with officials, with event details to be announced later.
These lockdown measures are estimated to cost around $6.4 million.
The competition used to be one of Hong Kong’s top social events and attracted a stadium crowd of 40,000, but will cap its ground capacity to 85% and limit spectator numbers, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.
A resumption of the sevens will be a much-needed boost for sports-starved locals but it is unclear whether many international fans will travel to Hong Kong while mandatory quarantine rules remain.
© Agence France-Presse
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