S'pore Rugby 7s moved to October

South Africa's Justin Geduld being tackled during the Sydney Sevens final against Fiji earlier this month. HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series defending champions Fiji won the tournament and are fourth in the standings with 53 points. New Zealand are lead
South Africa's Justin Geduld being tackled during the Sydney Sevens final against Fiji earlier this month. HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series defending champions Fiji won the tournament and are fourth in the standings with 53 points. New Zealand are leading after four legs with 76 points. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

April 11-12 event will become penultimate leg of world series due to coronavirus outbreak

The HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens is the latest local sporting event affected by the coronavirus outbreak, with organisers announcing yesterday that the April 11-12 tournament has been postponed to Oct 10-11.

The Hong Kong Sevens, scheduled for April 3-5, will also be pushed back to Oct 16-18, said governing body World Rugby.

It said the decision was taken "to help protect the global rugby community and the wider public and was taken based on the World Health Organisation and relevant public authority travel and health guidelines".

Both events are part of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. The new season has 10 legs and began in Dubai last December.

The finale was originally scheduled for Paris on May 31, but the postponement of the Asian legs will extend the season till October.

Those with Singapore Sevens tickets can use them for the new dates while full refunds will be given to fans who are unable to attend the October tournament at the National Stadium, said Sport Singapore.

The national sports agency took over the organising last year after Rugby Singapore, the commercial arm of the Singapore Rugby Union set up to organise the annual event, ran into financial difficulties.

Singapore rejoined the Sevens Series in 2016 after a nine-year absence and that edition drew 52,000 fans to the National Stadium.

It was the first of a four-year deal that was renewed for another four years until 2023.

Last year's tournament drew 57,000 fans and also featured international music acts like Smash Mouth and Broadway's Rock of Ages band.

Ernie Khoo, 49, who works in the finance industry and has attended the past three Singapore Sevens, said: "It's the right decision in light of the situation.

"It's for the safety of the spectators because we don't know how long this will go on for."

The Covid-19 disease, which originated in Wuhan, has infected more than 60,000 people worldwide and over 1,300 have died.

It has led to the cancellation or postponement of major international sporting events, including next month's World Indoor Athletics Championships in Nanjing and April's Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

In Singapore, the Feb 27-March 1 HSBC Women's World Championship golf tournament was scrapped after the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition was upped to "orange" last Friday.

The Ministry of Education has also suspended the National School Games until next month.

But two high-profile events here are set to proceed.

One Championship's mixed martial arts live show will be held on Feb 28 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. The organisation, which released its line-up for this year yesterday, noted that all events will run as scheduled aside from its April 11 fight in Chongqing, China, which will be moved to Jakarta and held a day earlier.

Organisers of the Singapore Badminton Open are hopeful the April 7-12 event, which features top shuttlers such as world No. 2 and defending champion Tai Tzu-ying and 2016 Olympic gold medallist Carolina Marin, will go ahead.

Organising chairman Robert Lim said that they "will continue to monitor the situation closely".

Additional reporting by Kimberly Kwek

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2020, with the headline 'S'pore Rugby 7s moved to October'. Print Edition | Subscribe