Australia to assist Pacific athletes reach Olympics

Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne says the PacificAus Sports programme will support nearly 200 Pacific athletes and assist with the cost of training and qualifications.

Olympic symbol.
Australia will lend a helping hand to assist Olympic athletes from Pacific nations reach the Tokyo Olympic Games, which open on July 23. Photo: Pixabay

CAPE TOWN, June 9 (ANA) – Australia will lend a helping hand to assist Olympic athletes from Pacific nations reach the Tokyo Olympic Games, which open on July 23.

According to Channel NewsAsia, a Singapore-based broadcaster, Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the PacificAus Sports programme will support nearly 200 Pacific athletes and assist with the cost of training and qualifications.

“We will support Olympians and Paralympians from 11 Pacific countries,” Payne said in a press conference on Tuesday.

“It’s about coaching, it’s about travel, accommodation and medical support… It’s about enabling participation during those pivotal final qualifying events,” she said.

Radio New Zealand (RNZ) reported that many Pacific athletes faced significant hurdles to complete their training programmes due to the Covid-19 outbreak, which has impacted on preparations for the final qualifying events.

The 11 nations who will receive funding and support include Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Meanwhile, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach told reporters on Tuesday that while the Japanese public remained divided on whether the Games should be held, he welcomed how the cancellation or postponement of the Games was not discussed at the latest executive board meeting.

“Sport has a great social significance by being the glue which bonds communities together,” Bach said in a statement on the official Olympics website.

“Sport has a great economic significance by creating jobs and generating an important contribution to GDP. This essential role of sport has been recognised by many in the international community, from the EU to the United Nations, and many others,” he said.

– African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Yaron Blecher

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