In an unprecedented move, Emirates Airline, title sponsors of three International Rugby Board (IRB) Rugby Sevens tournaments worldwide, has given its firm support to
the IRB's bid for Rugby Sevens to become an Official Olympic sport in the 2012 summer Olympics.
The Dubai-based international carrier is a keen supporter of Rugby Sevens globally and includes in its portfolio the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens, a series that has been
going strong for nearly 40 years; the Emirates Airline London Sevens, which recently had the highest-ever live television figures for an individual IRB Sevens event; and
the Emirates Airline South African Sevens.
The Dubai event last year attracted over 50,000 visitors and 152 teams, providing further evidence that the game is growing in popularity both among traditional and
non-traditional rugby playing nations.
His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman of Emirates
said, "The Emirates Dubai Sevens sees teams from all over the world, including Europe,
India, Africa, North America and Australasia, come to Dubai to compete in the tournament. We have sponsored Rugby Sevens events for the past 15 years and have seen
the sport grow immensely with an international fan base the world over."
"Our global experience sponsoring Rugby Sevens leads us to believe firmly that it will make for a wonderful Olympic sport. We have witnessed first hand the
international appeal of the game as demonstrated by the highly successful international TV and print exposure it has created for the Emirates brand," he added.
The Dubai Sevens event is so popular that it received an award in 2004 and 2005 for the Best Sporting Event in the UAE in a region which includes several top
international sporting events such as the Dubai Desert Classic on the PGA European Tour, and the Dubai World Cup, billed as the world's richest horse race.
The IRB is
confident that Rugby Sevens meets all the criteria set and expected by the International Olympic Committee and believes it measures up in every
respect as an Olympic sport. The IRB is also confident rugby can be very good for the Olympic Games in terms of spectator appeal, colour and excitement of
competition, commercial attractiveness and quality of tournament.
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