World Rugby has today announced details of a rugby sevens investment strategy that will breath much needed life into Gareth Baber and Saiasi Fuli’s Olympic preparation.
The strategy has been designed to optimise the sport’s preparation for, and participation at, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, now scheduled for July 2021.
In a significant boost to unions and players, the international federation is making a dedicated initial investment of US$2.5 million to support Olympic qualified national unions prepare for sevens’ biggest single global event, the Olympic Games.
With all sports impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic and the Olympic Games postponed by 12 months, the commitment is being made with the welcome support of an advancement of International Olympic Committee payments to International Federations and National Olympic Committees.
The Fijian 7s Olympic defence has been severely disrupted both financially and systematically due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With both Fiji men and women having qualified for Tokyo, Fiji Rugby will be able to apply to World Rugby for funding which can be directed towards rugby sevens squad training camps, competition support, technical and sports science and medical programmes.
The news of the funding boost comes as collaborative contingency planning for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2021 continues to progress with ongoing reviews into the delivery of the remaining 2021 men’s and women’s Series events and preparations towards a safe, secure and impactful return to action in line with World Rugby’s COVID-19 return to play protocols.
Following consultation and constructive dialogue with the host organisations, it has been confirmed that the combined men’s and women’s Hamilton and Sydney rounds of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2021, which were provisionally scheduled for 23-24 and 30-31 January 2021 respectively, will not take place due to the ongoing and dynamic global nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The decisions were taken in line with relevant government and international public health authority advice and with the health and wellbeing of the rugby community and the wider public as top priority. Both hosts are due to return to a full Series schedule beyond 2021.
Due to the impact of COVID-19 the 7s programme has been impacted by major reductions in sponsorship funding.
As such, Fiji Rugby will be opening up opportunities for the Fijian corporate and supporter community to assist the team in their preparations for Tokyo 2021.
World Rugby continues to work in collaboration with all host and participating unions, International Rugby Players, partners and stakeholders to closely monitor global developments with the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to work towards a return to HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series action, with planning ongoing towards holding events in Hong Kong and Singapore in April 2021. A further update on HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series scheduling will be given in due course.
Meanwhile, World Rugby, in full partnership with host unions, regional associations, participating unions and International Rugby Players, continues to evaluate and develop supplementary competition opportunities at regional or cross-regional level in addition to the Series to ensure that Olympic qualified teams have an appropriate amount of high-level competition opportunities, which will enable them to compete to the best of their abilities at the Games, despite the significant disruption caused across the sporting spectrum by the pandemic.