The latest to fall victim to the virus is the Sevens World Series. The scheduled tournaments in Hong Kong on April 3-5 and Singapore the following weekend have been postponed, World Rugby announced today (Feb 13).
The decision, which disrupts sevens rugby in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics, was made “in response to continued health concerns relating to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak,” World Rugby said.
"The health and safety of our players, fans and everyone working on the event is always our highest priority,” it added in a statement.
The announcement comes a day after Formula One’s Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, scheduled for April 19, was postponed, becoming the biggest single sports event affected by COVID-19 so far.
The Singapore tournament will now take place on October 10-11 and Hong Kong a week later on October 16-18, concluding the 10-stop world series.
The world-famous Hong Kong Sevens has not missed a year since it was founded in 1976 - it played on during the deadly 2003 SARS outbreak in the city - and it is hoped the 40,000-capacity sell-out, three-day extravaganza can continue that proud run by being played in October instead.
The event is a huge revenue-generator for the city, with bars restaurants and hotels booked out months in advance as thousands of players, officials and fans fly in from all over the world.
The COVID-19 death toll leapt to 1,367 today with over 60,000 infections in China, where the virus is thought to have emerged in the city of Wuhan.