WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand Rugby says its supports the decision to cancel the Hamilton and Sydney legs of the Sevens World Series in January because of uncertainty amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

World Rugby announced that the New Zealand and Australian events would be canceled in 2021 and it planned to start the annual series with events in Hong Kong and Singapore in April.

“We continue to closely monitor the ongoing and dynamic global situation with COVID-19 and the health and well being of the rugby community and the wider public remains sacrosanct,” World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper said.

“While it is disappointing not to be able to go ahead with the series events in New Zealand and Australia ... we are working very hard together with all host organizations, participating unions and other stakeholders to bring a safe, secure and highly impactful return to action as soon as possible.”

New Zealand and Australia have each closed international borders during the pandemic and imposed quarantines on returning travelers among other community restrictions.

NZR’s head of professional rugby, Chris Lendrum, said World Rugby’s decision was sensible and “we understand and support the decision to cancel.”

World Rugby canceled the remaining tournaments of the 2020 world series in March and later awarded the men’s and women’s titles to New Zealand, which was leading both series.

Planning continues for a Olympic repechage final qualification event in the first half of 2021. With 21 of the 24 teams already qualified for the Olympic rugby sevens competition in Tokyo, the remaining two women’s and one men’s spots will be determined at the last qualification event.


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