Hong Kong kicks off the Rugby Sevens tournament on Friday, one of the city's most popular sporting events, with international visitors returning after three years of COVID restrictions and as authorities try to boost the financial hub's allure.

The three-day competition, held from April 5-7, will be the tournament's first sell-out since the pandemic, organisers said.

The Sevens, co-sponsored by Cathay Pacific and HSBC, is one of several high profile events being held in the special administrative region this year.

It comes on the heels of the Art Basel fair, one of Asia's largest contemporary art exhibitions, and ahead of HSBC's global investment summit which takes place April 8-10.

Overseas ticket sales for the Sevens returned to over 40% of the total in 2024 for the 40,000 seat venue, supported by strong uptake from Britain, Australia and Fiji, said the Hong Kong China Rugby Union.

This compares with just 23% of overseas ticket sales in 2023 and 3% in 2022, due to strict COVID restrictions which kept many tourists away.

It is expected to be the last year that the Sevens will be held at Hong Kong stadium before moving next year to a new 50,000 venue at the newly built Kai Tak Sports Park.

Hong Kong hosted the World Triathlon Cup in its famous Victoria harbour and financial district in March, along with the Liv Golf tournament in the city's north near the border with mainland city Shenzhen.

Visitors are slowly trickling back into the former British colony, latest figures show, with the number of visitor arrivals in the first two months of this year up 12% from 2023 to around 7.83 million.


(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Stephen Coates)