Hong Kong Rugby Sevens was back in the city after a three-and-a-half-year COVID hiatus. The three-day tournament kicked off on Friday, with thousands of feverish fans filling the stadium.
In accordance with government requirements, all attendees needed to scan the Leave Home Safe Vaccine Pass and show photos of negative rapid antigen test results before entry. For spectators who forgot to do a test beforehand, the organizer has set up an area outside the main entrance for them to do so.
Compared to the pre-pandemic era, the crowd was smaller this year, especially during the daytime. Most of the seats on the upper stands remained empty at night.
Hong Kong Rugby Sevens Before and After COVID pandemic.
Besides, under the anti-COVID-19 measures, the stadium was only capped at 85 percent capacity, allowing up to 34,000 spectators. However, the party atmosphere remained especially on the South Stand, where spectators showed up in eye-catching and fancy costumes following the tradition.
Spectators who wear custom enjoying food and beverage on the South Stand, on November 5, 2022. (Photo: Gigi Tang)
“The atmosphere is really really good, it’s much better than expected”, said Christy Choi, who has been going to the event for the past ten years. “We have been waiting for this for so long, and now it’s back!”
Food and Beverage
Spectators were initially banned from eating and drinking, but Rugby Union secured government approval two weeks before the event. Spectators can buy food such as fried chicken and pizza from the food stall at the stadium, while fans could only enjoy them at the stands.
Spectators buying snacks in one of the food stalls, on November 6, 2022 (Photo: Gigi Tang)
The vendor said the business went well this year, especially after Friday. “The first game started at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, but it started at early 11 a.m. on weekends. More people are coming in these two days”, said Amil Rekhani, one of the food stall owners.
Although spectators were required to put on their masks when they were not consuming food, most people were mask-off for most of the time.
Fans from all over the world holding flags cheered for their teams, while Hong Kong remained the focus of the three-day tournament. The cheers of “Hong Kong!” echoed around the spectator stands.
However, Hong Kong suffered losses in all matches in the three days. Speaking after the matches, Hong Kong rugby team member Salom Yiu felt sorry for the defeats. He said the team had tried their best to strive for a win for the Hongkongers, who have been supporting the hosts.
Salom Yiu being interviewed by reporters, on November 5, 2022 (Photo: Gigi Tang)
Yiu said earlier that the 11th home Sevens appearance would be his last because of his injuries, and the Asian Games next year will be his retiring game. Yet, this star player said on Sunday that he would consider joining the Sevens next year, after negotiating with the coach.
Feature Image by Gigi Tang.