TASANOC blames netball and athletics federations for debacle of Pacific Games teams at airport

Tonga’s chief sports official has laid the blame for the fiasco involving the kingdom’s netball and athletics teams squarely at the feed of their national federations.

The Tonga Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee’s  Interim General Secretary ‘Ahongalu Fusimalohi said TASANOC was not to blame for the situation in which 56 Tongan sport players arrived at Fu’amotu airport to find they were not booked on the flight to Port Moresby.

As reported by Kaniva News on July 9, the athletes turned up at the airport expecting to fly to Port Moresby to take part in the Pacific Games. They had been led to believe that TASANOC would give them their tickets at the airport.

“There was never a time I or anyone at the TASA office told them to go to the airport and wait there while I bring them their tickets,” the General Secretary said.

“There was never a time have I advised anyone that their tickets were ready.

“This is a fabrication of truth orchestrated by a disgruntled few to relieve them from the pressure of not doing their job.”

He said the National Federation of Athletics and Netball (NFAN) was entirely responsible for the situation at the airport.

He said NFAN had failed in many ways to keep to its agreement with TASANOC and the government to make sure all Tongan sport teams arrived  in PNG on time to take part in the Games.

The government eventually met the cost of flying the athletes to Port Moresby through a TP$250,000 loan to TASANOC.

He said this meant the committee had been left with the cost of paying two thirds of the  expense of competing in the Games.

This was despite the fact that two years ago all national sports federations had agreed to pay one third of travel costs, as well as daily allowances and uniforms.

A schedule for the payment of these costs by instalment was set up.

However, the Netball and Athletic federations paid their share so late that their names had been taken off the official list of participants.

By this time all government funding for the Games had been used up.

He said NFAN had attended few meetings held by the national committee to organise the kingdom’s participation in the Games.

Other sports federations that made no payments included Taekwando, Table Tennis, Cricket, and Beach Volleyball.

He said all federations knew well in advance that payments from the national committee would be made on a first pay, first go basis.

“By last week we were left with Netball and Athletics because they were the last to make payments well outside the deadline,” Fusimalohi said.

“By the deadline, most sports had committed to their travel cost and per diems.”

“Why should TASA make any special arrangements for those who have made very late payments, and for those who have made no payments at all.

“Is it fair to other sports?”

The main points

  • Tonga’s chief sports official has laid the blame for the fiasco involving the kingdom’s netball and athletics teams squarely at the feed of their national federations.
  • The Tonga Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee’s Interim General Secretary ‘Ahongalu Fusimalohi said neither he nor the committee had ever told any athletes to go to the airport and collect their tickets.
  • He blamed the story on misinformation spread by people trying to cover up their failure to do their job.
  • Fusimalohi said the National Federation of Athletics and Netball (NFAN) was entirely responsible for the situation at the airport.

For more information

Tongan athletes dumped at the airport

Pacific Games Port Moresby official site

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