Fiji withdraws Commonwealth Games boycott threat
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Fiji has withdrawn a threat to boycott this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in protest at the exclusion of its rugby sevens and netball teams.
The president of the Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee, Reg Sanday, said member sports meeting in Suva on Wednesday had decided it would be unfair to deprive athletes of the chance to compete. Sanday said Fiji would send a small team to the games in July and August after its partial reinstatement to the Commonwealth.
That reinstatement made it possible for Fiji athletes to compete in Glasgow but came too late for organizers to revise draws for the sevens and netball competitions to accommodate Fiji. Fiji’s sevens team is currently in third place in the IRB world series and would have been a strong medal candidate.
Sanday’s told New Zealand media there had been “a healthy discussion about whether to send athletes to the Commonwealth Games, and we decided we should participate this year.
“It will be a small team. We have developed a budget for it. The government will not be providing funding, because it was not part of their budget. It has come as quite a surprise.”
Sanday said FASANOC had not been prepared for Fiji’s sudden, partial reinstatement to Commonwealth membership. Fiji has been excluded since 2009 and was not expected to rejoin the Commonwealth until democratic elections are held, possibly later this year.
Sanday said the chance to compete had come as a shock but “there was also some joy thinking that Fiji would be able to field its best athletes.” He said there was still “bewilderment” that the sevens team would not be able to play in Glasgow.
“The question simple people are asking in the villages is ‘why invite us then prevent us fielding our best medal hope?,’” he said.