The stranded Tongan sport teams who arrived at Fu’amotu airport on Tuesday to find their names weren’t on the passenger list finally left for the 2015 Pacific Games this morning Saturday 11 on a charter flight organised by the government.
Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva is dissatisfied with how the Tonga Association of Sport and National Olympic Committee (TASANOC or TASA for short) handled the incident and has demanded an immediate report.
It has been revealed the government had already provided TASA with TP $464,000 as its contribution towards the players travel costs.
There had been an agreement that the government, TASANOC and the teams would each pay one third of the travel costs and allowances of athletes
It specified TASANOC would be responsible for collecting the funds and booking the tickets with Fiji Airways.
However, in March TASANOC began informing the teams that the agreement had changed and they could book their own tickets online and just send the details to TASA for reimbursement, Radio FM 87.5 reported.
But when 56 competitors arrived at the airport on Tuesday they discovered no one had paid for their tickets.
TASANOC’s treasurer Hasiloni Fungavai told the radio that the national sport authority could not pay its share because the money was not immediately released. He did not give any details of where the money was supposed to be released from.
The Director of Tonga’s Ministry of Sport ‘Onetoto ‘Anisi told the radio that after Tuesday’s problems the government was looking for additional funds to cover the shortfall.
Ánisi said the government was deeply concerned by developments and wanted a full accounting of TASA’s expenditure.
He said the Prime Minister and Cabinet weren’t satisfied with TASA not paying their share.
Tonga has 255 athletes altogther where the majority has already in PNG.
The incident on Tuesday left the athletes in a desperate situation while TASA’s officials – President Robyn Kaho, Former Secretary General Takitoa Taumoepeau and Interim General Secretary ‘Ahongalu Fusimalohi were already in PNG.
Fusimālohi did not respond to our repeated requests for comments.