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World Rugby has scrapped the combined men’s and women’s events in Dubai and Cape Town, the first two rounds of next season’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, due to the global pandemic.

The events were provisionally scheduled for Nov. 26-28 and Dec. 4-6, 2020, respectively.

“While we share in the disappointment of players, teams, fans, hosts and everyone involved with the popular events in Dubai and Cape Town, this is a prudent decision taken with the health and well-being of the global rugby community and wider society as our top priority and guided by the relevant government and international public health authority advice,” World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper said in a statement Wednesday.

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“We look forward to welcoming these wonderful destinations back to the Series following this year’s hiatus.”

The 2020 Series was cut short with events in Langford, B.C., London, Paris, Singapore and Hong Kong cancelled due to COVID-19. New Zealand was announced winner of both the men’s and women’s divisions based on points already accumulated.

Canada finished third in the women’s standings and eighth in the men’s.

A working group chaired by John Jeffrey, a member of the World Rugby executive committee, and including representatives of host and participating unions, players and coaches, has been formed to plan a “safe, secure and impactful return” to international rugby sevens competition.

With 21 of the 24 teams already qualified for the Olympic rugby sevens competition in Tokyo, planning for the Olympic repechage qualification event in the first half of 2021 continues, according to World Rugby.

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