Melbourne — World Rugby said on Tuesday that it would allocate $2.5m among rugby sevens nations that have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics to cope with further disruptions to the global sevens calendar due to the coronavirus.

The governing body said it had called off the Sydney and Hamilton rounds of the HSBC World Sevens Series scheduled for January due to the dynamic global nature of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Organisers now hope to kick off the series in Hong Kong and Singapore in April. With the global championship a key plank in Olympic preparations, World Rugby said it would make “a dedicated initial investment of $2.5m” to support qualified nations.

“Each union that has qualified 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,” it said in a statement.

World Rugby was forced to scrap the last rounds of the 2019/2020 series due to Covid-19 and make New Zealand winners of both the men’s and women’s championships.

The Dubai and Cape Town rounds of the 2020/2021 series, provisionally scheduled for November and December, were called off in August.

Rugby Australia interim CEO Rob Clarke said it was “incredibly disappointing” that Sydney would not go ahead but he looks forward to the tournament returning to the city in 2022.

Rugby Australia said it could apply for $200,000 from World Rugby’s grant, or $100,000 each for its qualified men’s and women’s teams.

World Rugby said it was working to confirm dates for the Olympic repêchage event in the first half of 2021, where the final two women’s nations and one men’s nation to qualify for Tokyo will be decided.


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