Olympic journey a massive problem for some Pacific Island teams

Alison Rombough

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Famous athletes in sporting activities like tennis and golfing heading to the Tokyo Olympics will in all probability get there in Japan at the front of the aircraft.

It’s a model to which the athletes of the Pacific Islands are unaccustomed. Fiji’s gold medal-winning men’s rugby sevens team will arrive in Tokyo together with the other customers of their nationwide team on Thursday on a cargo/freight flight which is hauling typically frozen fish.

Commercial passenger flights to and from Pacific nations have develop into scarce throughout the pandemic. Lorraine Mar, the main executive of the Fiji Affiliation of Athletics and Countrywide Olympic Committee, mentioned Wednesday that arranging journey for the Fiji group to Tokyo has been a “logistical obstacle.”

Mar reported about 51 athletes and officials, mainly the Fiji men’s and women’s sevens squad, will be on Thursday’s flight from Fiji’s principal global airport at Nadi. It’s a routinely-scheduled freight flight which has some ability for passengers.

The sevens teams not too long ago have been primarily based in Australia in which the Fiji guys won the Oceania Sevens title in Townsville, Queensland two months in the past. The men’s group gave Fiji its to start with-ever Olympic gold medal when it received the inaugural Olympic rugby sevens event in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The Fiji groups were being at first envisioned to fly instantly from Australia to Tokyo, but plans have been transformed at the final minute thanks to new COVID-19-associated limitations in Asia.

Aside from the sevens groups, the Fiji crew consists of 1 observe and discipline athlete, two swimmers, a female desk tennis participant and a judo competitor who currently is centered in Japan.

Mar explained dealing with athletes’ departures from Japan also is a problem. The IOC demands athletes to vacate the Olympic village in just 48 hrs of the conclusion of their gatherings.

Fiji has a flight booked from Tokyo to Nadi on July 29, following the sevens tournament has concluded and which could also carry other athletes who have been eliminated or have finished competing. Another flight is booked on Aug. 10.

Mar hopes the IOC will grant dispensation for athletes who are not able to immediately get hold of flights home to keep on being in the village right up until journey is offered.

Amongst other Pacific Island nations, Samoa has already withdrawn its a few-member weightlifting from the games mainly because all are centered in Samoa and the Samoa federal government is involved about the spread of COVID-19 in Japan. Eight Samoan athletes who are primarily based abroad will continue to contend.

They comprise two boxers based in Australia, 4 sailors and canoeists dependent in New Zealand, a keep track of athlete centered in the United States and a judoka based mostly in Japan.

Tonga will send six rivals, all but two of whom are based mostly overseas. They incorporate Pita Taufatofua — the “naked Tongan” — who was a bare-chested sensation when he carried the Tongan flag in the opening ceremony of the Rio online games.

Taufatofua, who will compete in taekwondo in Tokyo, also represented Tonga in cross-region skiing at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.


More AP sports activities: https://apnews.com/apf-athletics and https://twitter.com/AP_Athletics

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