Fiji sports chief says New Zealand’s World Cup travel sanctions may breach Olympic charter
By Associated Press, Thursday, June 23, 11:16 AM
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The president of Fiji’s National Olympic Committee said New Zealand might be in breach of the Olympic charter if it bans Fijian players from the Rugby World Cup on political grounds.
Vidya Lakhan said he had written to the International Rugby Board urging it to “put its foot down” over the New Zealand government’s plan to impose travel bans against Fiji players with military links.
Lakhan said rugby had now been accepted as an Olympic sport — rugby sevens will be part of the games from 2016 — and was subject to the Olympic charter that rejects political interference in sport.
New Zealand has imposed travel sanctions against members of the Fiji military and their relatives since a military-led coup in 2006.
Lakhan, who has previously called for Fiji to boycott the World Cup, told Fiji media Thursday he had outlined to the IRB his organization’s belief that rugby, as an Olympic sport, should be immune to political interference.
“We are a National Olympic Committee, we are affiliated to the International Olympic Committee and as president of FASANOC, I’m required to uphold the IOC constitution and FASANOC constitution which very clearly says we will resist all pressure of politicking, racial and religious nature in sport,” Lakhan said.
“So we cannot agree to political interference in sport whether it be from the Fiji government or Australian government or from any government.
“I’ve already said to the IRB that the Rugby World Cup belongs to them and they decide who will take part and who will not which they have done through their qualification system.
“I strongly believe that no country can dictate to Fiji as to who they should select. It should be left to Fiji Rugby Union. They should be at liberty to select their best team to take to the games.”
Lakhan said any ban on players with military links would force Fiji to send a B team to the World Cup. Fiji this week finalized a 50-man squad to prepare for international matches, mostly made up of overseas-based players, and it was not immediately clear how many would be affected by the travel sanctions.
The International Rugby Board has already urged New Zealand to soften the sanctions for the World Cup but said it accepted it was the right of the New Zealand government to conduct its own foreign policy.
June 23, 2011
Vidhya Lakhan bats for the miltary regime
Now that Keni Dakuidreketi is out of the way at the Fiji Rugby Union level, the illegal and treasonous military regime sets their new mouthpiece loose to fight their visa ban battles.
The "non-politicalization of sports" in Fiji that Lakhan tries to bemoan so persuasively holds no water as the regime's campaign is taken to another level, in the hope that taxpayers won't notice the millions being sunk into the illegal and treasonous military's profile-building, overtaking their basic needs.
Lakhan, in a bad salesman pitch, looks set to try and pitch the wishes of a sovereign nation like New Zealand, against the Olympic Charter.
And to round his ignorance off, Lakhan claims that the military members of the team are so outstanding, that the team we will eventually end up sending will be sub-par. How's that for a shot of morale for the team aspirants in training? Nevertheless, we're quite sure this statement alone will engender a domestic dispute from the many home-grown rugby pundits.