The Hong Kong Sevens, which is an international 7-a-side rugby tournament, has returned after a 3-year absence due to COVID restrictions.
Teams from nations such as Samoa, Spain and South Africa arrived for the event. Hong Kong officials say this will help in bringing back some normality to the city state.
The event has attracted international fans due to the government’s decision to remove mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals.
Attendees said that it felt “surreal” to be back again.
One of the first few people arriving at the venue was 48-year-old Carla Yee with her husband and two sons.
“We are really excited, we pulled [our sons] out of school for the day just to go,” said Yee’s husband.
While extreme restrictions have been put aside for the most part, there are several stipulations that still exist. Attendees will have to submit a negative COVID test to gain entry and will also have to wear a mask during the match. Attendees will only be able to remove their masks when they are eating and drinking.
One attendee from South Africa expressed their disappointment with the restrictions that were still in place.
“We didn’t know there are three days of medical surveillance,” Reiner Du Plessis, 38, said. “They could make the travelers more aware, we had absolutely no idea.”
However, Ireland coach James Topping said that the restrictions didn’t present any serious issues and he was grateful for the team to be playing again.
“[Covid-19 restrictions] were not an issue for us,” Topping said. “Whatever gets us out on the pitch, all teams are more than happy to do. The thing about Hong Kong is it always gets a big crowd. We’ve played in events when there haven’t been restrictions and there were much smaller crowds.
“We came here not expecting too much and look at these stands, almost full. Hopefully the place will fill up on Saturday. When we’re on the bus, we can see people are out and about, in restaurants and bars. It looks open to me.”
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