Rugby: Hosts hope for Hong Kong Sevens buzz at Olympic qualifiers
- Updated: June 24, 2015
June 24, 2015: The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) has announced that November’s Asia Rugby Sevens Qualifiers for the 2016 Olympics will have the ‘off-pitch entertainment’ that the Hong Kong Sevens is renowned for, as it seeks to drum up support for the two-day event.
The tournament will be held from November 7-8 at the 40,000-capacity Hong Kong Stadium, home of the Hong Kong Sevens, where the hosts will aim to become the city’s first team sport to qualify for the Olympics after hockey in Tokyo in 1964.
Tickets will go on sale in early August, with a single-day ticket costing $200 and a two-day package at $360, while admission is free for youngsters aged 12 or under.
Tournament Director Sam Pinder said: “The HKRFU believes the ticket packages represent outstanding value for spectators, and demonstrates our focus on making this event accessible to the wider community as well as our goal of getting the stadium full of Hong Kong supporters.
“The event will feature the off-pitch entertainment that the Hong Kong Sevens is renowned for, including activities for all ages on the concourses with some of the best local live music acts and all the elements you’d expect to find at a Hong Kong Sevens event. Combined with the excitement of watching Asia’s top sevens teams battling for rugby sevens’ biggest prize – Olympic qualification – it promises to be a winning combination.”
The tournament will be the sole Olympic qualification event for Asia’s top men’s teams and the first in a two-tournament women’s qualifying campaign, followed by a second event in Tokyo from November 28-29.
The men’s winner will claim Asia’s sole automatic slot among the 12 teams participating in Rio 2016, where rugby sevens will make its Olympic debut. Fiji, New Zealand, South Africa, Great Britain, USA, Argentina and hosts Brazil have already booked their places.
The remaining five spots will be awarded to the winners of regional qualifiers in Europe, Oceania, Africa and Asia, as well as the winner of a 16-team international repechage tournament.
Eight Asian women’s teams will compete in Hong Kong and Tokyo in a bid to join New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Colombia, USA, France and hosts Brazil in Rio, alongside the winners of regional qualifiers in Oceania and Africa, and the winner from the international repechage.
Hong Kong forward Christy Cheng Ka-chi said: “The opportunity to participate in an Olympic Games is the ultimate dream for any athlete and we are totally focused on preparing for the November tournaments.”
The HKRFU also announced an initiative to work with the Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, to help promote all Team Hong Kong athletes as they strive for Olympic qualification in their various sports.
Ronnie Wong, Hon. Secretary General of Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, said: “We call for the Hong Kong public to give full support to our rugby team to win the qualifiers, in the same way the fans have got behind our soccer team in the World Cup qualifiers earlier this month.”
National swimmer Stephanie Au Hoi-shun, currently bidding for a slot in her third Olympic Games while also working in the HKRFU’s communications department, is excited by the concept.
“The countdown for qualification for Rio is intensifying and over the coming months there will be mounting pressure on all of Hong Kong’s elite sportsmen and women,” Au said.
“Knowing we have the backing of the Hong Kong public really makes a difference to our athletes and I hope we’ll see a massive turn out for the rugby in November.”
Source: HKRFU (www.hkrugby.com); Editing by SportAsia