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 that infection rates are continuing to rise.
The Singapore tournament, which was due to take place on 11 to 12 April, will now take place on 10 to 11 October, and the Hong Kong leg has been moved from 3 to 5 April to 16 to 18 October.
"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 Organisation 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 popularised and globalised 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 Olympics rugby sevens competitions, due to run from 27 July to 1 August.
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 champions Fiji have won the last five Hong Kong titles, while New Zealand lead the standings of the current series.
The tournaments join a long list of international sports events in Asia that have been cancelled, postponed or moved because of the virus, most notably the indoor world athletics championships in Nanjing from 13 to 15 March.
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Updated Date: Feb 13, 2020 19:03:12 IST