Fiji gets green light for Glasgow but sevens unlikely to go
The Fiji Olympic Committee is pleased at the decision to lift a ban on its athletes competing at the Commonwealth Games but faces a scramble to be ready in time, while team sports including sevens are unlikely to take part.
The Fiji Olympic Committee has welcomed a decision which will allow it to compete at this year's Commonwealth Games but for some sports the reprieve may be too late.
Last week the 43rd Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group downgraded Fiji's five year suspension from the Commonwealth, freeing it to compete at the Glasgow Games in July.
The President of the Fiji Olympic Committee, Reg Sanday, told Vinnie Wylie the decision is pleasing and well overdue.
REG SANDAY: We were disappointed when the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting suspended us in 2009. We though that we should have had our own partial suspension then that would have allowed us to continue to be represented at the Commonwealth Games. We've been campaigning actually vigorously since June last year to have the suspension status downgraded. We had hoped that the CHOGM meeting in Sri Lanka in November would downgrade out status so we could start preparing for the Glasgow Games -now in March they have reduced the suspension, which is something we've always been asking for. However, because the draws for the teams sports have already been done: for rugby sevens, netball and hockey we don't think that we will be able to compete then - we are just waiting [for] clarification from the organising committee. The team sports draws were done in January so we are kind of disappointed that we have not been able to now send our sevens team to Glasgow - which we would have been assured of a medal at least - but we will be able to compete in the individual sports and we are now liaising with organising committee to sort out the logistics of that. We hope that all these issues will be clarified over the coming days.
VINNIE WYLIE: If Fiji was to be able to enter a team into those team sports would another country have to pull out or, if Fiji had been eligible all along, would there have been room for all the nations?
RS: No actually what has happened is that when the draws were conducted countries were allocated the slot that Fiji would have got so it would be very difficult to then cancel those slots. We hope that we can still participate in the team sports but we don't expect that will happen.
VW: For all the athletes that do want to participate and the ones that you would send to this event, how difficult is it now in such a short time frame to get them ready?
RS: You know we haven't been sleeping under the coconut tree since we started our campaign in June last year. We've reminded the sports that we are still in the running for the Commonwealth [Games] and to ensure that the athletes keep up with their training and preparation. Some of the sports I know are ready - it's just a matter of getting the logistics clarified and then we will sit down and have a discussion with the different sports. We will be ready for Glasgow and we will not be going there just to participate - we are going there to compete to the best of our ability.
VW: Does this have any effect of funding? I know a lot of these athletes get funding from various grants and scholarships and other things the Olympic Committee can apply for as well - is there a still a chance to get those?
RS: We've sent questions to the organising committee of the Commonwealth Games [and] one of them is the issue of funding? What funding is available for us from Commonwealth sources? Of course we do have our funding pool here in our organisation and we can always access government funding. We are waiting for the response from the Commonwealth Games Federation in terms of funding [and] I am hopeful there will be some funding available.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: