The Hong Kong Cyclothon and the New World Harbour Race will return to the city after they were suspended for two years owing to the 2019 protests and the subsequent Covid-19 pandemic.

The Tourism Board announced on Wednesday that the cycling event will be held at the Hong Kong port of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge for the first time on January 16 next year. It will be limited to 3,000 local participants only and they will be required to be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before the competition.

Hong Kong Cyclothon cycling
Hong Kong Cyclothon 2018. Photo: GovHK.

Cyclists must also receive a Covid-19 nucleic acid test carried out by the organisers within 48 hours before the race, but they are allowed to remove their face masks during the competition. A total of 1,000 places are offered for the 48 km race, which costs HK$750 for registration. Meanwhile, up to 2,000 people may join the 26 km ride costing HK$500.

Online registration for ballots to enter the Cyclothon begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Similar Covid-19 regulations will be imposed at the cross-harbour swimming race, which will take place on December 12. This year’s race will allow up to 1,200 contenders, who will follow a new route, diving in at the public pier next to Wan Chai Golden Bauhinia Square to reach the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Swimmers are required to complete two doses of Covid-19 vaccination at least 14 days before the event. They also need to take a free Covid-19 test arranged by the organiser and receive a negative result within 48 hours before the race.

New World Harbour Race Victoria Harbour swimming
Photo: New World Harbour Race.

They must scan the official Covid-19 contact-tracing LeaveHomeSafe app for accessing the venue, as well as sign a health declaration form to ensure they have not left Hong Kong in the 21 days before the race.

People may sign up for the race online starting at 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday. Water tests are expected to take place at the end of this month after the organisers draw lots.

The Cyclothon and the cross-harbour race scheduled in October 2019 were cancelled amid citywide unrest sparked by the ill-fated extradition bill. They were scrapped again last year as Hong Kong was struggling to curb the spread of Covid-19.

covid-19 coronavirus vaccine
Coronavirus vaccination in Hong Kong. Photo: GovHK.

As of Tuesday, Hong Kong has registered 12,388 Covid-19 infections while the death toll stands at 213. The 40 new cases recorded over the past two weeks were all imported. Around 66.6 per cent of the city’s population has been inoculated with two doses of vaccine, with 56,146 people having received their booster jab.

Rugby Sevens

Organisers of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, however, announced on Tuesday that the rugby tournament scheduled for April 2022 will be moved to November that year. In delaying the major event for the fifth time, the organisers cited uncertainty over the current Covid-19 travel regulations and inbound quarantine arrangement.

They said the deferral was “disappointing,” but it was also “in the best interests of the tournament, teams and fans to do so.”

Hong Kong Rugby Sevens 2019
Hong Kong Rugby Sevens 2019. Photo: GovHK.

“Whilst we are confident in our ability to host a safe and spectacular tournament for you all, ongoing uncertainty around travel restrictions and inbound quarantine means that we are not able to guarantee the safe and smooth arrival of participating teams,” the event organiser wrote on Instagram.

The Sevens was last held at the Hong Kong Stadium in April 2019, around two months before the city was rocked by the anti-extradition bill protests. The Rugby Union called off the event in 2020 because of the pandemic and rescheduled it numerous times later.

Hong Kong Stadium rugby sevens
Photo: Rugby Sevens, via Facebook.

The government said last week that international events such as the Rugby Sevens will be held in the Kai Tak Sports Park after its expected completion in 2023, while the Hong Kong Stadium will have its seating capacity cut from 40,000 to 9,000.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.