The union’s chief executive Robbie McRobbie even warned that the continued postponement might cause the Sevens to disappear from international calendars, just as Kai Tak Sports Park prepares to open its doors.

The Hong Kong Sevens, originally rescheduled to be held in April 2022, will be postponed again to November 4 to 6, 2022, the union announced on Tuesday.

The postponement marks the fifth time the union has to reschedule or cancel the Sevens due to the pandemic. It is also the longest postponement to date with 12 months until match day.

The union hoped to see continued growth in local and overseas vaccination rates and the opening of Hong Kong’s border with China and internationally to allow the Sevens to mark its 45th staging without disruption and with a full complement of teams.

When offered an opportunity to kick off the Series in November by World Rugby, the union felt it was in the best interests of the tournament, the teams and fans, to reschedule. It will be the first time since kicking off in 1976 that the Hong Kong Sevens will be played outside of spring.

Hong Kong will host a second event in the 2023 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series six months after November’s return in its customary April window.

“The HKRU has been consistent in our message that we can deliver the Sevens without jeopardising the success of community health efforts which we support, but this requires a confidence that all participating teams can be allowed to travel and the ability to host the event to our own high standard, which we cannot guarantee,” said McRobbie.

The consecutive postponements have forced the union to exhaust its financial reserves after an accumulated pandemic-related loss to date of HK$200 million, and to reduce headcount by more than 40 percent, including closing its professional players program.

“The longer that government-supported M Mark international sports events are unable to be staged, the higher the risk that they disappear from their international calendars entirely, doing lasting harm to their sports and our community, and ironically leaving the city bereft of world class events just as Kai Tak Sports Park prepares to open its doors,” McRobbie added.