The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) will host its
first-ever Asian Region Olympic Qualifier tournament for rugby
sevens, on 7 and 8 November at the Hong Kong Stadium.
Rugby Sevens Qualifier is the first time that Hong Kong has played
host to an Olympic team sport final qualification event. Twenty of
Asia’s top rugby sevens teams – twelve men’s and eight women’s
teams – will take part in the qualifier, including regional
sporting powerhouses China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia,
Kazakhstan and Sri Lanka.
The winner of the men’s bracket in the
competition will advance directly to Rio 2016, while the region’s top
eight women’s teams will play in a two-leg series with the Hong
Kong qualifier followed by a women’s-only competition in Tokyo,
host city of the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Sevens will debut at the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil, creating an
opportunity for Hong Kong’s men’s and women’s national sevens
teams to make history by becoming the first local teams to qualify
for an Olympic Games since men’s field hockey in 1964.
The Hong Kong Rugby Union is also using the Olympic
Qualifier as a platform to promote other Hong Kong sports and
athletes who are striving for the honour of representing Hong Kong
at an Olympiad.
Working closely with the Sports
Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, the Elite
Athletes Association and a variety of National Sports
Associations, the HKRU hopes to highlight the efforts and skills
of Hong Kong’s sportsmen and women during November’s Olympic
An “Olympic Avenue” will be established
on the stadium concourses during the event to promote Hong Kong’s
sporting community. This interaction will enable spectators to
learn more about Hong Kong’s sports scene and promising athletes,
while also inviting the community to rally behind the efforts of
rugby and other sports to reach their personal and professional
milestone of Olympians.
“We are honoured to have
the privilege of hosting the first-ever Olympic qualifier for
rugby sevens in Asia. Being awarded the right to host this unique
competition recognises the instrumental role that Hong Kong, home
of the world’s most famous sevens tournament, has played in
growing the sport in the region and around the world,” said Pieter Schats, Chairman of the Hong Kong Rugby Union.
Vern Reid, Chief Executive Officer of the HKRU,
added, “The rugby world is anticipating that the Olympics will be
a transformative event in the sport of rugby worldwide. We hope
that the qualifier in November will similarly be a boon not only
to rugby but to sport in Hong Kong overall and will helps shine a
spotlight on local athletes and the enormous sacrifices they make
in their pursuit to represent Hong Kong at elite and Olympic
Despite the intense competition, Hong Kong men’s and
women’s teams are currently among the top contenders to qualify
Hong Kong are the defending men’s Asian
sevens champions at both senior and junior (U20) level, while the
women’s team recently won their first-ever Asian Sevens
tournament, beating both of the top teams in the region, Japan and
China, en route to the title. The women are presently the
top-ranked team in Asia.
The rugby sevens athletes
at the Hong Kong Sports Institute are eagerly anticipating the
challenge and have frequently commented about the importance of
playing in front of their home audience on this pivotal occasion
in Hong Kong sporting history.
“I remember playing
at the Asian Games in Guangzhou and the China National Games. I
thought that being in these major multi-sport competitions in my
own country would be the highlight of my athletic career, but now
the thought of being able to reach world sport’s highest stage in
front of my parents and in my hometown is a huge motivation for me
in my training and desire to make the team in November,” said
local sevens star Yiu Kam Shing.
It is a sentiment
shared by the women’s team. “The opportunity to
participate in an Olympic Games is the ultimate dream for any athlete, and the thought of realising this once-in-a-lifetime goal
in front of our families and friends is all that we could have
hoped for,” said women’s sevens standout Cheng Ka Chi, who
captained the team at the China Sevens in September when Hong Kong
claimed a historic first Asian women’s sevens cup.
Pictures from Singha Thailand Sevens 2015
Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2015.
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