Internal Conflicts Threaten Tonga’s Amateur Sports Bodies

Participation in Rio Olympics, 2019 Pacific Games in doubt

By Pesi Fonua

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, May 17, 2016) – Will Tonga’s flag be flying at the Rio Olympic Games in August, and will the Pacific Games happen?

At the moment there is no definite answer, because the Tonga Amateur Sports Association/National Olympic Committee (TASANOC) has not been able to resolve on-going internal conflicts and has failed to provide outstanding annual and financial reports that have been demanded by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Issuing a stern warning to TASANOC last week, Dr Robin Mitchell, President of Oceania National Olympic Committee stated, “The Pacific Games of 2019 is threatened by the lack of leadership by the Tonga National Olympic Committee (NOC).”

He implored Tonga’s sports leadership to resolve their conflicts and serve the best interests of the athletes of Tonga.

Funds suspended

The outstanding reports are a major concern for Dr Mitchell and the IOC.

The IOC is TASANOC’s main benefactor and used to contribute about USD$110,000 or 85% of its annual operational budget. In June 2015 IOC suspended all financial assistance to TASANOC because it had not provided the mandatory annual and financial reports.

Earlier this year, Dr Mitchell, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), met in Tonga with the executives of TASANOC, and there was an agreement for a partial lift of the suspension of IOC funds to TASANOC to enable its office to remain in operation and for the outstanding reports to be submitted.

Ongoing conflict

Now, the latest communiqué from Dr Mitchell to TASANOC of 9 May, reminded the President Lady Robyn Tu’ivakano and the Secretary General Takitoa Taumoepeau of the importance of what they had agreed to during a meeting in Port Vila, Vanuatu, on 8 May, “in order to move forward and resolve the on-going conflict of TASANOC.”

“We believe that we have reached a clear understanding of the obligations required from TASANOC and the importance of satisfying outstanding reports due next Tuesday May 17, 2016,” Dr Mitchell stated.

Not clear

Meanwhile, in Tonga, TASANOC confirmed that the outstanding reports would not be ready today, 17 May.

Takitoa Taumoepeau yesterday, disputed Dr Mitchell’s letter that they had agreed in Vanuatu for outstanding annual and financial reports to be ready by 17 May. “I recalled that TASANOC is to satisfy requirements to outstanding reports by 30 June 2016… This was in my understanding that Vice President Bloomfield and I had agreed to return from Port Vila and attend to this matter with urgency,” he stated.

Apart from the issue of the missing reports, Takitoa said that TASANOC was looking forward for a fruitful discussion on TASANOC’s new constitution on Thursday, 19 May when TASANOC had agreed to host an Extra-Ordinary General Assembly Meeting to adopt the IOC approved Constitution and By-laws.

Undermined

Dr Mitchell expected TASANOC would also propose a resolution to elect new officers at another general meeting to be held before 30 June.

“As leaders of your NOC and PGA (TASANOC) it is imperative that serious consideration be addressed to resolve any and all conflict that has undermined and underpinned TASANOC’s ability to function administratively and operationally, thus compromising the development of Tongan athletes.

“The suspension of funding from the Olympic Solidarity programme, the non-acquittal and timely reporting of grants provided, further hinders the work of your NOC. We implore you to find some common ground that serves the best interest of your NOC and the athletes of Tonga,” he stated.

Furthermore, Dr Mitchell reminded Tonga that the Olympic Games are less than 84 days away, “and we encourage you to pursue a stable organisation going into the Games.”

Matangi Tonga Magazine
Copyright © 2016 Matangi Tonga. All Rights Reserved

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