The list of teams announced this week for next month’s Canada Sevens double-header in Vancouver and Edmonton Sevens featured the absence of some notable nations, all regulars on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
Fiji — who won gold in Tokyo last month, their second-straight Olympic title — plus New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Samoa will not be making the trip north.
In Tokyo, New Zealand were silver medallists in men’s rugby sevens and won gold in the women’s competition, while Argentina won bronze.
To blame? The still-raging COVID-19 pandemic.
In the cases of New Zealand and Australia, their teams’ absences are due to the stringent travel restrictions still in place by those countries’ governments. Their men’s and women’s teams just recently returned from the Olympics and are in the midst of a two-week quarantine, which they would have had to repeat upon their return from playing in the Canadian events.
And in the cases of Fiji and Samoa, it’s about travel challenges but also about the human element.
“The Fijian team, as far as i understand it, is they’ve been away for months, they’ve had to quarantine on their return, they want to see their families. You can understand it. How much time would they really have had if they were to turn around right away and come here?” Jamie Levchuk, Rugby Canada’s manager of business operations said Thursday.
“Thanks to Canadians and their vaccinations right here, we’ve been allowed to loosen some restrictions, but we are still in the middle of a global pandemic and local restrictions (in other countries) are making things difficult for teams to travel,” he added.
“And flights aren’t even fully on line, so teams like Fiji and Samoa, could they have even have gotten here? Because of where they are, their usually taking a three-hopper (of flights)…so if 80-per-cent of the flights aren’t running, that makes things complicated.” Canada Sevens live