Though it won’t be a shock to anyone keeping track of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, two more of Hong Kong’s biggest annual events - the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens and Sónar festival - have been put on ice for a later date, as well as Singapore’s Rugby Sevens tournament.
World Rugby announced its decision to delay the event - jointly made with the Hong Kong Rugby Union and Sport Singapore - on Thursday. The body stated that the choice was made explicitly in response to continued health concerns relating to the outbreak.
In a statement on its website, World Rugby justified the decision, saying:
“The health and safety of our players, fans and everyone working on the event is always our highest priority. This prudent decision has been taken in order 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. The decision is fully supported by stakeholders, including unions and commercial partners.”
Both events have been rescheduled to round off the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2020, with the HSBC Singapore Sevens now set to take place on 10-11 October, followed by the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens on 16-18 October. World Rugby reiterated that this change is not going to permanently offset the calendar, with the tournaments returning to their April slots in 2021.
Ticket holders have been told that their purchases will be honoured for the rescheduled events but that a full refund will be provided in the event the new dates make attendance unfeasible.
The other major rumble for Hong Kong events has been the postponement of the eclectic, electronic Sónar music festival. Likewise, organisers cited COVID-19 as the cause for the move.
Sónar stated in a notice on its website and social channels:
“Due to increasing uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus and out of concern for the health and wellbeing of all our fans, artists and staff, alongside the logistical challenges in the current climate, Sonar HK will be postponed to a later date.”
POSTPONEMENT ANNOUNCEMENT pic.twitter.com/xzrQXT48Ri— Sónar Hong Kong (@Sonar_HongKong) February 13, 2020
Like the Rugby Sevens, ticket holders were told their purchases were still valid for the new dates but that full refunds would be available, noting that the sales platform Ticketflap would be in touch.
Sónar’s headline act, UK artist Stormzy, who has cancelled his Asia tour in response to the outbreak, relayed his own sadness at the necessary decision but promised he would return.
Hong Kong has seen several months of hardship for the city’s events community, with multiple gatherings cancelled since June over concerns related to ongoing protests. The start of the year was looking to be a chance to recoup some of those lost costs and return to business but has been given a gut-punch by the appearance of the novel coronavirus strain. The sheer impact has not yet been evaluated but is likely to be huge.