Sports Council chair says RNZ wrong: King funding unqualified teams due to bad advice

Na’e fale’i hala e Tu’i’ fekau’aki mo e timi sipoti kuo pehē kuo’ ne fakapa’anga ‘aki ha pa’anga ‘Amelika ‘e $9,000 tokua he kuo tōnounou fakapa’anga e pule’anga’ ke fakapa'anga. Pea kuo tukuaki’i ‘e he Sea ‘o e Kosilio Sipoti ‘a Tonga’ na’e hala ‘a hono lipooti ‘eni ‘e he Letiō Nu’u Sila’ ‘o pehē ko e tokoni’i ‘eni ‘e he Tu’i’ ha tō nounou fakapa’anga mei he pule’anga ke fakapa’anga e sipoti ‘a Tonga. Kuo pehē ‘e he Sea' 'Ikani Taliai ko e timi ko ‘eni kuo taku ne tokoni’i ‘e he Tu’i’ ne ‘ikai ke nau paasi ‘i hono tesi’i kinautolu pe 'oku nau fe'unga ke nau fakafofonga’i ‘a Tonga he Keimi Pasifiki'. Pehē ‘e Taliai ko e timi kotoa ‘e 18 ne nau paasi hili hono tesi’i ke nau fakafofonga’i ‘a Tonga ki he Keimi Pasifiki ‘i Ha’amoa. Ko e timi ‘e 18 ne pāsi’ ne tokoni’i fakapa’anga kakato ia ‘e he pule’anga ‘enau ngaahi fiema’u ki he Keimi’ pea ne 'ikai ha tōnounou fakapa'anga 'a e pule'anga' ia he tokoni ko ia'. Ko e timi leva ‘e fitu ko ee’ ne ‘ikai ke nau ma’u ‘e kinautolu ha pa’anga mei he pule’anga’ koe’uhi he ne ‘ikai ke nau paasi pea ko e ngaahi timi ‘eni ‘oku lau ne tō folofola e Tu'i' te ne foaki ki ai 'a e me'a'ofa'. Pehē foki ‘e Taliai tukukehe ‘a e felotoi ke ‘i ai ha sitanitati pau ke fili’aki ‘a e kau sipoti 'e fe’unga’ ne kei fili pe ‘e he TASANOC ia ‘a e kau ‘atelita mo e ngaahi timi ne ‘ikai ke nau a’usia ‘e lēvolo na’e fiema’u'. ‘Oku maumau’i ‘e he founga ko ia' ‘a e TASANOC e feinga ko ‘eni fakalelei’i e sekitoa sipoti’ ‘i Tonga’, ko e lau ia 'a Taliai'.

The head of the Tonga Sport Council has denied a report by Radio New Zealand that His Majesty King Tupou VI is covering a shortfall in funding for the kingdom’s team at the forthcoming Pacific Games in Samoa.

He said that because of inaccurate advice, His Majesty was in fact actually supporting teams which had not met the agreed criteria to compete at the Games.

Chairman of the Tonga Sports Council, Ikani Taliai, said the RNZ report was “absolutely inaccurate.”

Teams which had met the criteria were being fully funded by the government through the Tonga Sports Council.

When the Tongan government cancelled its right to host the 2019 Pacific Games, it refocused its energies on the preparation of its athletes and the longer term reform and development of the sports sector in the country, Taliai said.

As part of this procedure, the government reactivated the Tonga Sports Council which was asked to take charge of reforming the sports sector and support a national team to compete at the 2019 Samoa Pacific Games.

Taliai said governments of the nations sending teams to the Pacific Games  did not have the authority to select those teams. This was done by the independent sports governing bodies within those countries, which had to belong to the Pacific Games Council. In Tonga the independent governing body is the Tonga Sports Association and National Olympic Committee, popularly referred to as TASANOC.

Before the TSC was reactivated, TASANOC and the national sport federations agreed on criteria and standards to which athletes and national sport federations would aim in an effort to raise the performances of national representation in regional and international competition.

The Tongan government accepted a budget proposal from the TSC to support the preparations for a Tongan team to the Pacific Games, based on the agreed standards.

Through the TSC, the Tongan government paid for the country’s national sporting federations to provide their athlete with strength and conditioning coaching, logistical support, nutrition, and preparation for competitions.

The TSC assessed which athletes and teams were to be funded by the government to go to Samoa based on the criteria agreed to by TASANOC and the national sport federations.

A total of 18 sports reached the agreed standards and were offered full funding through the TSC to go to Samoa.

“However, seven teams did not reach the required standard to represent the country at an elite level at this major regional sporting event,” Taliai said.

These team were not paid to go to Samoa because they did not make the grade, not because of a lack of funding.

“Had these sports achieved the agreed standards within the time requirements, the funding provided by the Tongan government was sufficient to address their needs,” the TSC head said.

“It is inaccurate to report that His Majesty offered funding due to insufficient government support.”

Taliai said that despite agreeing to a set of standards, TASANOC had included athletes and teams who had not reached the required level. This undermined efforts to reform the sports sector in Tonga.

“An increasing number of the 18 teams are rightly aggrieved that their efforts seem to amount to naught due to the fact that TASANOC has included teams that did not reach the very standards they had previously agreed to,” he said.

“Radio New Zealand’s report that His Majesty offered to fund a shortfall of the Tongan government to send athletes to the Pacific Games is absolutely inaccurate,” Taliai said

“If His Majesty was ill-advised and given an inaccurate description of the circumstances, the consequences for the advancement of the sport sector would be disappointing.

“As a consequence of the misjudgment in advice provided to His Majesty, he effectively is funding teams that TASANOC had previously deemed not suitable to represent the nation at the Pacific Games based on the standards they agreed to.”

RNZ reported that the king had donated nearly $US9000 after he visited the team and was told they were short of funds.

The New Zealand broadcaster said the King’ brother-in-law, Lord Vaea, had pledged to match the donation.

Tonga was going to host the 23019 Game, but pulled out in 2017 after Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva became worried about the amount of debt the kingdom could incur.

The main points

  • The head of the Tonga port Council has denied a report by Radio New Zealand that Hi Majesty King Tupou VI covering a shortfall in funding for the kingdom’s team at the forthcoming Pacific Games in Samoa.
  • Chairman of the Tonga Sports Council, Ikani Taliai, said the RNZ report contained “some major inaccuracies.”
  • RNZ reported that the king had donated nearly $US9000 after he visited the team and was told they were short of funds.

For more information

Tongan king and noble donate to cash-strapped athletes

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