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Fiji fight games ban

Vidya Lakhan, head of the Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee, said on Tuesday the decision taken at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Trinidad to ban Fiji from next year’s Games in New Delhi was “disappointing”.

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Claims of political interference

“We reiterate our position and that is that we see CHOGM’s stance in this matter as political interference in sports,” Lakhan said. “

We will now take our case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and this is our last straw.

The decision made there will stand and we will all have to abide by it.”

Ban confirmed

Commonwealth leaders meeting in Trinidad on Monday confirmed a decision to suspend Fiji over the failure of the military-led government of Commodore Frank Bainimarama to meet timelines for the restoration of democracy.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Bainimarama said Fiji’s exclusion from the 2010 games was an inappropriate way to achieve the Commonwealth’s aims.

Request to reconsider

“We hope that the Commonwealth will reconsider this decision,” Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office, Pio Tikoduadua said.

They should not mix politics with sports.

This is not helping in finding solutions to our problems.”

Fiji confident

Lakhan said he had three legal opinions which suggested Fiji had a strong case for reinstatement to the Commonwealth Games and he would be filing papers with the Court of Arbitration for Sport within two weeks.

“I would suggest that they (CHOGM) get into communication with the IOC and learn how sports and politics are separate,” he told Radio New Zealand.

“Politicians are playing their game and of course their intention is to deprive athletes of opportunities. I guess politicians are only good at depriving people of opportunities.”

Bainimarama background

Bainimarama seized power in a December 2006 coup and Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth on September 1 when his government backed down on pledges to hold elections by 2010.

A CHOGM communique said the decision to suspend Fiji from the Commonwealth Games was in line with principles under which “sporting ties are inseparable from the values of the association.”

Fiji needs to meet demands

Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith said the ban was reversible if Fiji met Commonwealth demands.

“There’s one very quick way for Fiji to get itself back into the Commonwealth and to go for example to the Commonwealth Games and that’s to have an election and return democracy, respect for human rights and respect for the rule of law to Fiji,” Smith said.