Historic HK Sevens takes centre stage

Art Basel, cultural festivals and tech conferences have the city revelling in an events revival. Now it’s the turn of the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens to hog the spotlight in the ‘World Meeting Place’ before it moves to a new home in Kai Tak Sports Park

AVANT GARDE art events passed the ball to a weekend of sporting glory as the Hong Kong Sevens kicked off with the rugby extravaganza’s last event in the city’s So Kon Po area before scrumming down at a new state-of-the-art stadium on the site of the former Kai Tak Airport.

Hong Kong had earlier this month hosted Art Basel, attended by 75,000 people across its corporate and pubic days, and Art Central along the city’s harbourfront. Art Basel saw gallery owners and collectors from across the world descend on the city, which is rising as a centre for the international arts business.

A visiting conference group enjoys the 2022 Sevens

This weekend of April 5-7, however, saw the events canvas taken over by the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens – a major fixture on the sporting calendar and a key occasion for hoteliers and the city’s overall visitor economy. Tickets for the 40,000-seat stadium were sold out with 40 per cent of fans arriving from overseas. 

Business event organisers were busy preparing corporate boxes at the stadium with fun themes for clients while conferences, lunches and leisure itineraries have been planned for executives flying into the city and holding meetings in the run-up to the event.

It was the first time since the pandemic that the stadium on Hong Kong island was sold out, and the last time the Sevens will be held there after 30 years. Hong Kong China Rugby is being moved across the harbour to the new Kai Tak Sports Park Stadium in East Kowloon next year.          

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Conferences related to the big event are also high on the agenda with Branded’s Sports Matters North Asia welcoming rugby legends Brian O’Driscoll and Sean Fitzpatrick along with Olympian rower Steve Redgrave, Women’s Rugby Association CEO Nolli Waterman. Also taking to the stage in The Millions suite at Happy Valley Racecourse were marketing executives representing top-ranking Spanish soccer’s La Liga and event sponsors such as Mastercard among other big names.

The Hong Kong Sports and Sustainability Summit took place on the Wednesday at The Fullerton, next to Ocean Park, while Hong Kong China Rugby hosted the two-day International Sports and Emergency Medicine Conference 2024 at the city’s Gleneagles Hospital.

All aboard the Dukling for a cultural cruise

Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), meanwhile, has shared the appeal generated from the arts and cultures events to more than a hundred attendees at the recent WOW Summit Hong Kong and the Fortune Innovation Forum with giveaway tickets to the M+ and Hong Kong Palace Museum at West Kowloon Cultural District.

Among the highlights were the Arts in Hong Kong Harbour Tour aboard the Dukling, a classic Chinese-style fishing vessel transformed into a major tourism attraction. The cruise on Victoria Harbour let international guests view the city’s modern architecture and the latest sights along West Kowloon water front including the large-scale art installation Ephemeral and teamLab: Continuous at Central Harbourfront. The events followed a successful Hong Kong Arts Festival.

HKTB said that by securing more large-scale international business events for Hong Kong, including the debut tech gathering Chainlink SmartCon 2024, and Consensus 2024, the world’s longest-standing and influential crypto-currency and Web3 event, would further consolidate Hong Kong’s position as the “World’s Meeting Place”.

Main image: Action from Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens in 2019

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