The Morrison Government and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) are working in partnership to support over 170 Olympic and Paralympic athletes from eleven Pacific nations to prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Due to the impact of COVID-19, many Pacific athletes face significant challenges in completing final training programs and critical qualifying events.
With support from the Australian Government’s PacificAus Sports program, Pacific teams and athletes will be able to train and compete in qualification events, giving them the greatest opportunity to realise their Olympic and Paralympic dreams.
Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Marise Payne said sport sits close to the heart of Australia’s special bond with the Blue Pacific.
“Sport provides a powerful linkage between countries in our region and it is important our talented sportspeople have the opportunity to compete at an elite level to do themselves and their nations proud,” said Minister Payne.
“The Australia-Pacific Olympic and Paralympic Partnership is helping to unlock the potential of a whole new generation of champions.
“I am also pleased to note the balanced representation of female and male athletes in this cohort.”
Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator the Hon Zed Seselja, said he was proud to join the announcement today.
“The Pacific is absolutely bursting with exceptional athletes. Our support for this program will bolster Australia’s already strong bond with our Pacific family, and open greater opportunities for these athletes in the months leading up to the Games,” said Minister Seselja.
An estimated 150 Olympic athletes from the Pacific Island nations of Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu are looking to secure a spot on their respective Olympic Games’ teams. An additional twenty Paralympic athletes will represent Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands, PNG, Kiribati, Samoa and Tonga at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
The AOC, working with the respective Pacific Olympic committees and their representative body, the Oceania National Olympic Committees, is helping coordinate efforts to identify and support athlete’s training and qualification plans.
AOC CEO Matt Carroll spoke about the opportunity to unite the Pacific through sport and the significance of developing the partnership.
“The Olympic and Paralympic Games creates opportunity and inspiration for nations across the world. This partnership is not just about backing high performance programs across the Pacific. It also sends a message of resilience to communities throughout the region.”
The President of the Oceania National Olympic Committees, Dr Robin Mitchell, also participated in the launch.
“We’re excited to be part of this historic effort, and to have the opportunity to work with the Australian Government to support our athletes through final preparations on their journey to the Games,” Dr Mitchell said.
Oceania Paralympic President Paul Bird thanked the Australian Government for its support of Paralympians across the region on their journey to Tokyo.
“This funding is vital to assist our Pacific Island Paralympians to reach their goals and achieve their best in Tokyo. Like all athletes, they have been impacted by the pandemic and this support will ensure they are able to train and prepare for the Games.”
Established in 1981, the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) is one of five Continental Associations. It looks after the interests of 17 member nations in the Oceania Region, including Australia and New Zealand as well as seven associate members.
ONOC has an office in Guam where Secretary General Mr. Ricardo Blas is based and the Secretariat in Suva, Fiji, where the Office of the President Dr Robin Mitchell is located.
All services and-programmes are based on the ONOC Strategic Plan for 2018-2021, and its 4 Core Functions of (1) Building and Strengthening NOCs Capacity (2) Cultivating Strategic Partnerships (3) Contributing towards Sporting Excellence and (4) Leading by Example.
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