Lord Tupou trying to politicise sport in Tonga says Sports Institute head

    Pehē ‘e he talēkita ‘o e Kautaha Sipoti Fakafonua ‘a Tonga’ ‘Ikani Taliai kuo feinga fakapolitikale’i ‘e Looti Tupou e sipoti’ he fonua’. Pehē ‘e Taliai ko e tohi tukuaki’i ‘e Looti Tupou ‘a e ‘Eiki Palēmia he māhina kuo ‘osi’ na’e ‘ikai ke tonu pea fāfāvale. Ko e tohi ‘eni ‘a Looti Tupou kau ki ha fakataha ‘i he ‘aho 31 ‘o Mee’ na’e ui ‘e he ‘Eiki Palēmia’ ke alea’i ai e vā ‘o e pule’anga mo e TASANOC. ‘Oku mahino na’e ‘ikai ke ‘i he fakataha’ tonu ‘a Looti Tupou. Ne fakahā ‘e Looti Tupou kuo ‘osi ‘ātita’i e me’a fakapa’anga kotoa ‘a e TASANOC a’u mai ki he lolotonga ni’ pea ‘oku maau pe kautaha’. Ka ‘oku pehē ‘e Taliai ia ko e hiisitōlia pule’i kovi ‘oku toutou tukuaki’i ki ai ‘a e TASANOC ‘oku’ ne faka’ai’ai e teke mālohi 'i Tonga ke fakafoki e sipoti’ ki he me'a 'oku totonu ke ne tokanga taha ki ai' ‘a ia ko e tamaiki va'inga'.

    The director of the National Sports Institute has accused Lord Tupou of trying to politicise sport in the kingdom

    ‘Ikani Taliai said the president of Tonga’s leading sports body had issued what he called “a fumbling and inaccurate report” of a meeting on May 31 called by the Prime Minister to discuss the government’s relationship with TASANOC.

    According to Lord Tupou the meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and acting Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon Semisi Sika, senior staff of MIA as well as nine representatives of the National Federations of Archery, Body Building, Football (Soccer), Rugby League, Netball, Swimming, Va’ a (Outrigger Canoe) , Volleyball and Weightlifting.

    He claimed that Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva said the government could no longer work with the TASANOC executive board and suggested it be dissolved.

    “This smacks of dictatorial and blatant, political interference with sport,” Lord Tupou said.

    “It appears clear to us that the main reason for calling the meeting and expressing your displeasure was because of the legal action by Pacific Games Council (PGC) and TASANOC against Government for unilaterally pulling out of the agreement for Tonga to host the 2019 Pacific Games.

    “If you and Government continue with this mission and aim to interfere and dissolve TASANOC, it may result in Tonga’ s suspension from the Olympic Movement and her membership with the lnternational Olympic Committee, the Commonwealth Games Federation and  the Pacific Games Council.”

    The Pacific Games Council and TASANOC lodged a claim for millions of dollars of damages against the government last month for its late withdrawal from hosting the 2019 event.

    Lord Tupou also denied allegations of financial impropriety by TASANOC, saying it had provided properly audited financial accounts and that overseas donations had been accounted for.

    However, the director of the National Sports Institute said he vehemently denied the accuracy of Tupou’s version of what happened at the meeting.

    Taliai said the meeting was held to provide the sport federations the chance to discuss their general concerns and the pending court case between the Government of Tonga and TASANOC and the Pacific Games Council.

    “It was apparent at the meeting that there was and is a rising discontent amongst many of the membership of TASANOC with their Executive’s performance,” Taliai said.

    He said government plans to reform the sports sector of Tonga were being undermined by the misinformation being disseminated.

    “The historic poor governance and recent actions of the TASANOC Executive are a destabilising force in a Tonga that is desperate to return the focus of the sports sector back to where it should be – the athletes,” Taliai said.

    “The inaccurate description of the purpose of the meeting is a blatant attempt to silence the voices of the sport federations who clearly declared their displeasure with the TASANOC Executive during the meeting.”


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