Phuket Rugby Sevens canceled
PHUKET TOWN: It was announced yesterday that this year’s Phuket International Rugby Sevens tournament has been canceled. The announcement came just 10 days before the tournament was due to start. The Thai Rugby Union (TRU) blamed the cancellation on a 2-million-baht shortfall in sponsorship. No hint of these problems was given in the last meeting between organizers and sponsors, held on July 10. At that time, Admiral Han Sakulpanich, the chairman of the tournament, remarked that he expected the event, which was launched last year, to develop into a competition to rival the Hong Kong Sevens, which every year attracts thousands of spectators from overseas. The TRU had already received bookings from rugby teams from nine countries in Asia and Europe. Letters of apology have now been sent out to those teams. Pisit Chutasmith, public relations officer for the TRU, told the Gazette that the Union and Siam Sport Syndicate Co Ltd had been trying hard to raise the event’s estimated 7-million-baht budget. But, he explained, “A lot of sports sponsorship money has already been soaked up by other events taking place before, or about the same time as, the Phuket International Rugby Sevens, such as the Olympics, the SEA Games and the Asian Games.” K. Pisit said the TRU was upset over the potential damage to the image of the country, and was worried that it might be difficult to resurrect the tournament in another year. But, he said, the possibility of another large loss this year had forced the organizers to cancel. He explained, “We lost 2 million baht last year because of a lack of interest in this tournament, and because entrance was free.”
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