Singapore Sevens | Singapore National Stadium | April 13-14
The circus has officially left town and while Hong Kong licks its wounds and nurses a collective hangover from their annual festival of debauchery, pageantry and athletic grit, the HSBC World Rugby Seven Series moves south to Singapore for the only other Asian stop on the 10-event tour.
No two events could be more dissimilar – the rip-roaring Hong Kong Sevens sells basically all of its 120,000 tickets over three days, while Singapore’s two-day event is lucky to fill a quarter of the 55,000 seats in their cavernous national stadium.
Singapore organizers claim they want a more sedate, family friendly gathering and were openly joyous when an internal report by World Rugby ranked their event number two in 2018 behind Vancouver, with Hong Kong fifth out of 10.
The ranking was based on a poll of players and coaches of overall experience from logistics, travel time, hotels, food and player amenities. “For us to go one up on Hong Kong is a great achievement, and we are very close to becoming No 1,” Singapore Rugby Union President Terence Khoo said.
The Sevens World Series officially returned to Singapore in 2016 and is signed through 2023. While the event has the full backing of the local authorities, it lacks one key ingredient: people. Even a checkerboard color pattern camouflaging the vast expanse of empty seats can’t disguise a stadium that has all the charm of an airport hangar.
On the pitch, the United States are the surprise series leaders and will look to further distance themselves from the pack as the top four teams automatically qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
An electric combination of speed and grit, the Americans are upsetting the game’s traditional power structure and are worthy of a peek if you are in Singapore this weekend. The best news is there are lots of good seats left.
S20 Songkran Music Festival | Live Park Rama 9, Bangkok | April 13-15
Thailand is about to get wet, very wet. This week the nation celebrates Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year, and while family and friends gather to pay gratitude to elders and visit temples, water guns will still drench even the most innocent of bystanders.
Few places will be as festive, and soaked, as the S20 music festival in the heart of Bangkok. Now in its fifth year, the festival has grown exponentially and more than 40,000 revelers will groove on big-beat headliners like Fatboy Slim, Steve Aoki and Tiesto.
Featuring a massive sound stage, the organizers of the self-billed “World’s Biggest Songkran Celebration” promise to fill the sweltering Bangkok evening with larger-than-life lighting and water special effects. And the beat goes on.
Sonar Hong Kong | Pak Shek Kok, Hong Kong | April 13
Things will be considerably drier in Hong Kong, where thousands are expected to gather on the shores of Shatin’s Tolo Harbour at Pak Shek Kok Science Park for the sold out Sonar electronic festival.
This will be the third year in Hong Kong for the groundbreaking event that not only features electronic, house and techno acts, but also a number of workshops and lectures focusing on technological advancement and experimentation.
Founded in 1994 in Barcelona and featuring artists like Bjork, Duran Duran and Grace Jones, the eclectic Sonar festivals are now held in Bogota, Buenos Aries, Reyjkavik and Istanbul, as well as Hong Kong, where DJ Bonobo, Thundercat and John Talabot top the bill.
Chinese Grand Prix | Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai | April 14
Like everything else in China’s lustfully iconic construction boom of the early 2000s, the Shanghai International Circuit in Jiading was the most expensive Formula One circuit built at US$240 million when it opened in 2004.
Abu Dhabi would soon smash that when they opened their $6 billion track five years later, but at the time the Shanghai event was seen as the dawn of a new era of China’s financial muscle in the world’s most popular motoring circuit.
However, F1 honchos would quickly discover “all that glisters is not gold” and four years later race organizers threatened to cancel the race after racking up huge losses. Not happy with the exorbitant fees paid to F1 to host the race, fees that were amongst the highest on the circuit, a deal was eventually reached to extend the contract until 2020.
For now, at least, the race goes on with five-time winner Lewis Hamilton, now at No 4 in the driver standings, looking to vault up the charts.
The Masters | Augusta, Georgia | April 11-14
In 2018, Asia sent a record 10 players to the Masters, the years’ first – and most exclusive – major golf tournament.
This year it’s a seven-man contingent with Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, South Korea’s Si-Woo Kim and China’s Haotong Li joining Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, Shugo Imahira, Satoshi Kodaira and 20-year-old amateur Takumi Kanaya in the field of 86.
Rory McIlroy, at 8-1 odds, is the favorite followed by Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose and Tiger Woods with Matsuyama, at 30-1, the only Asian in the top 30 picks.
Tim Noonan is a writer based in Bangkok and Toyko, covering sports and culture.