The former President of Tahiti’s Olympic Committee Tauhiti Nena has dismissed the Government’s proposed boycott of the Pacific Mini Games, saying it cannot stop individual sporting federations from attending.
The withdrawal was announced by the director of French Polynesia’s youth and sport service Anthony Pheu at the weekend and follows a disagreement over who should represent Tahiti’s boxers.
Mr Nena’s Tahiti Boxing Association is recognised by the international boxing federation while the government-backed federation is not.
He said that gives them the right to attend the Mini Games in Vanuatu and he’s confident they won’t be the only ones, reports RNZI.
“I know some federations they are ready to go to the Mini Games, they want to go to the Mini Games and they go to the Mini Games.
“The government’s support or not some federations (will) go to the Mini Games with the Tahitian delegation…I think maybe three or four (sports will attend the Mini Games), sure: weightlifting, boxing, rugby and maybe another federation, so I have to wait – maybe tennis too.
“It depends on the athletes – if the athletes are ready they go”.
In August, a court order annulled the elections of the officers of the Pacific Games Association of Tahiti, including Mr Nena’s role as President.
The Pacific Games Council said in the continuing absence of an elected body it would continue with its policy to accept athlete entries from individual sports federations, which are affiliated with their respective international federations.
Tauhiti Nena said French Polynesia’s territorial assembly, including the government, voted to contribute 40 million francs towards Tahiti’s Mini Games delegation only two months ago.
He believes the government’s opposition to his boxing federation is motivated by the fact he is running for parliament in the upcoming election.
“I’m sure it’s just a political reason but I’m happy we have rules in the Olympic Committee,” he said.
“It’s not the President of the Government that decides if I’m not in the Olympic Committee of French Polynesia. If all the majority of federations of sports they don’t agree about my federation they could put me out of the Olympic Committee.
“So now all the federations now support my federation because they know the good job that we do for these 20 years coming”.
The Pacific Games Council said it will not turn away deserving athletes from Tahiti Nui and will make every effort to assist them should their national federation continue their wish to participate in the Mini Games.