Fiji to attend Glasgow Games after boycott talk

BEN STRANG
Last updated 05:00 27/03/2014

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Fiji will attend the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this year, after sports organisations decided against a boycott of the event last night.

A small team of athletes will head to Glasgow for the Games in July and August, without any funding from the Fijian government.

The country had considered boycotting the Games this year because their sevens and netball teams could not be entered, two weeks after having a ban from the Games lifted.

Fiji had been banned from the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, after being banned from the Commonwealth in 2009.

Reg Sanday, president of the Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee, or Fasanoc, told Fairfax Media it would be wrong to deprive athletes of the chance to compete in Glasgow.

"We had a healthy discussion about whether to send athletes to the Commonwealth Games, and we decided we should participate this year," Sanday said.

"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 Fiji currently has a Dengue fever epidemic, and most funds are going to fight the problem.

"We couldn't deprive the government of vital funds fighting Dengue fever. We completely understand."

Fasanoc will come up with a small budget to send the athletes to Glasgow.

Fiji had been told they would not be reinstated to the Commonwealth until democratic elections had taken place later this year.

When they were partially reinstated two weeks ago it came as a shock.

"There was also some joy thinking that Fiji would be able to field its best athletes," Sanday said.

However, that joy turned to "bewilderment" in finding out the sevens and netball teams wouldn't be able to compete, taking away their best medal hope.

"The question simple people are asking in the villages is, ‘why invite us then prevent us fielding our best medal hope?'."

Sanday said Fiji worked hard to have the two teams involved in the Commonwealth Games, but the draw for both tournaments had been made before Fiji were reinstated, and was out of their control.

Since the sevens draw was made Nigeria's team has pulled out of the Games, allowing Barbados to take their place as the next best qualifier in a North American tournament last year.

Unless another team ends up pulling out, Fiji will stay on the sidelines.

Opposing teams will be pleased they have one less obstacle in Glasgow, but they still have to face them in the Sevens World Series this weekend in Hong Kong.

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Fiji are two time defending champions at the Hong Kong Sevens, and come off their Tokyo win in good form.

- Waikato

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