The Hong Kong leg of the Sevens World Series will be postponed later on Thursday due to the coronavirus outbreak in China, according to a local media report.

The Hong Kong sevens, which arguably popularised and globalised the shortened version of rugby in the 1990s and is considered the marquee stop on the 10-tournament circuit, was due to be held from April 3-5.

Organisers said as late as two weeks ago they thought the tournament would take place, but the virus that has killed more than 1100 people has forced them to shift the event to October, the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday.

The Hong Kong Rugby Union refused to confirm the postponement, although Chief Executive Robbie McRobbie told the newspaper an announcement would be made by governing body World Rugby later on Thursday.

Olympic champions Fiji have won the last five Hong Kong titles, while New Zealand lead the standings of the current series.

If confirmed, the tournament joins a long list of international sports events in Asia that have been cancelled, postponed or moved because of the virus, most notably the indoor world athletics championships in Nanjing from March 13-15.