SINGAPORE – The Singapore and Hong Kong legs of the World Rugby Sevens Series have been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, World Rugby announced on Thursday.
The outbreak has killed more than 1,300 people in China and infected tens of thousands more, and there are signs infection rates are continuing to rise.
The Singapore tournament, which was due to take place on April 11-12, will now take place on Oct. 10-11, and the Hong Kong leg has been moved from April 3-5 to Oct. 16-18.
“The health and safety of our players, fans and everyone working on the event is always our highest priority,” World Rugby said in a statement.
“This prudent decision . . . was taken based on the World Health Organization and relevant public authority travel and health guidelines. (It) . . . is fully supported by stakeholders, including unions and commercial partners.”
The Hong Kong Sevens, which arguably popularized and globalized the shortened version of rugby in the 1990s, is considered the marquee stop on the 10-tournament circuit.
The Singapore and Hong Kong rounds were seen as key to teams’ preparations for the Tokyo Olympic rugby sevens competition. The Hong Kong tournament is set to host a joint Sevens Series competition for both men and women for the first time this year as World Rugby expanded the women’s circuit from six tournaments to eight.
Olympic champion Fiji has won the last five Hong Kong titles, while New Zealand leads the standings of the current series.
The tournaments join a long list of international sporting events in Asia that have been canceled, postponed or moved because of the virus, most notably the Chinese Grand Prix, which was scheduled for April 19 in Shanghai, and the indoor world athletics championships in Nanjing from March 13-15.