Olympic Rugby Sevens program delayed until 2021
Rio , Brazil - 11 August 2016; Kenki Fukuoka, right, and Yusaku Kuwazuru of Japan following their defeat during the Men's Rugby Sevens semi-final match between Fiji and Japan during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games at Deodoro Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

After long consideration, the Olympic Rugby Sevens program has been delayed until 2021 as the Covid-19 risk has put national aspirations in the background.

Now, sides who have had multiple legs of the HSBC Sevens Series postponed, cannot look forward to Tokyo 2020. It followed the cancellation of the Olympic repechage tournament for Olympic qualification.

With this necessary decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee to postpone the Olympic and Paralympic Games, rugby sevens is another unfortunate victim of the pandemic. Gladly, not physically but, in a game that thrives on physical contact, the men and women affected must feel disappointed (to say the least).

Olympic Rugby Sevens program delayed until 2021

World Rugby stated that ‘The health and safety of the athletes, fans, and everyone involved in our shared priority and responsibility and we believe the right decision has been taken in these very difficult and unprecedented circumstances’.

Their reaction, and that of national unions like New Zealand Rugby, is of concern for the athletes. Both from the welfare point of view, with as much consideration of the sadness that individuals will all feel that a dream can no longer be met.

Many have invested a long period of their careers, to assist their team to qualify for the Olympic rugby sevens. It will be gutting to be so close, however, all athlete’s welfare is key. New Zealand Rugby’s high-performance sevens manager Tony Philp said players were given the option to return home to families or stay at their base in Mt Maunganui in preparation for the nationwide shut down enforced by the Government.

“The most important thing for our players at the moment is to adapt to life at home and that they, and their families, are able to remain safe and healthy during this time. The next step will be making sure players can stay connected and how they integrate training and wellbeing activities into their daily routine” said Philp.

Note: the postponement of the Olympics follows World Rugby’s announcement over the weekend to postpone the last two legs of the 2020 Sevens World Series.

Click here to read the IOC announcement.

 

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