The Pacific Games Council has accused the Tahitian government of political interference, after announcing it will boycott the upcoming Mini Games in Vanuatu.
The withdrawal, announced by the director of French Polynesia’s youth and sport service Anthony Pheu, follows a disagreement over who should represent Tahiti’s boxers in Port Vila in December, reports RNZI.
In August, a court order annulled the elections of the officers of the Pacific Games Association of Tahiti. The President of the Games Council, Vidhya Lakhan, said all entries for the Mini Games need to be submitted under the signature of the President or Secretary General of a member country’s Pacific Games Association.
But with no officials in place in Tahiti, and election not planned until the new year, the Council’s Executive Board agreed it would accept entries directly from national sporting federations, provided they were affiliated with international federations.
“Our rules are quite clear, knowing the fact that in Tahiti there are two boxing federations and one has come into existence in the last few months, which is recognised by the government but not by the international boxing federation,” he said.
“…So according to our rules we will only recognise the boxing federation or association in Tahiti which is recognised by the international boxing association or federation – and they would have the right to take part in the Pacific Games.”
Vidya Lakhan received a letter from the President of Tahiti accusing the Pacific Games Council of interfering in their internal sports administration but said it was the government’s “recognition and non recognition of one or the other of the two boxing associations [which] could be bordering on political interference.”
“We were quite clear, we’ve written back to him [and explained] the way we are structured we do not allow political interference in sport and that’s what is happening in Tahiti.”
Mr Lakhan said, provided they have international recognition, individual sporting federations were within their rights to compete at the Mini Games.
“What we are hoping is that athletes who entered when the entries closed on the 20th of October that the government will see it’s way clear to allow them to take part because that is their right to take part and I don’t know how far a government can go towards saying athletes can not take part,” he said.
“But we will not get involved in the local politics, we will accept athletes if they comply with our requirements and if not then we will not allow them to take part in the Games.”