Fiji drop threat to boycott Commonwealth Games over rugby sevens snub

 

Fiji has dropped a threat to boycott the Commonwealth Games following the exclusion of its rugby sevens team because they did not believe it would be fair to deprive other competitors of the opportunity to compete in Glasgow.

The Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC) held an emergency meeting in Suva today to discuss whether they should withdraw from the event after the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) decided that they could not change the format of the tournament to accommodate the country’s rugby sevens and netball teams.

Fiji had been barred from the Commonwealth Games following a 2006 military coup but was readmitted two weeks ago ahead of a return to democratic elections planned for later this year.

But the draw for rugby sevens had already been made with the qualification rules making no provision for late entries.

The Fiji netball team has been shut-out for the same reason.

Reg Sanday, President of FASNOC, claimed that they had decided to go ahead and compete in Glasgow following consultations with senior officials from the country’s rugby and netball federations.

“They appreciated the support that was given to them by other sports however they did not want other sports to refrain from attending the Commonwealth Games just on their behalf,” sais Sanday.

“The other sports discussed it and they felt that the purpose of our existence really is about promoting sport and honouring sporting excellence.

“Our attendance at Glasgow would be important so the decision was unanimous that we should take part.

“It is just unfortunate that our sevens team and our netters will miss out due to the late announcement.”

Sanday’s admitted there had been ”a healthy discussion about whether to send athletes to the Commonwealth Games, and we decided we should participate this year.”

Preparations will now be made to select a team to travel to Glasgow 2014, even though it will put financial stress on FASANOC.

”It will be a small team,” said Sanday.

“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 admitted the chance to compete had come as a shock but there would be huge disappointment about the absence of the country’s rugby sevens team.

Earlier this week Fiji won the HSBC Sevens World Series Tokyo Sevens title, cementing their third place position in the International Rugby Board World standings.

The team also won medals at the last three Commonwealth Games it entered – the first three in which rugby sevens was a part of the sports programme – taking silver in both 1998 and 2002 and a bronze in 2006.

Sanday claimed 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.

This article first appeared in www.insidethegames.biz and is reproduced with permission.

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