Fijian Outrage at New Zealand Plans to Ban Fijian Players with Military Links from Rugby World Cup

June 24, 2011

Fiji’s National Olympic Committee president, pharm Vidya Lakhan, cure has suggested New Zealand may be in breach of the Olympic charter if it proceeds with plans to ban Fijian players from the Rugby World Cup on political grounds.

Lakhan said he had written to the International Rugby Board (IRB) urging it to “put its foot down” over the New Zealand government’s plan to impose travel bans against Fiji players with military links. Lakhan has previously called for Fiji to boycott the World Cup.

Lakhan argued that because rugby had now been accepted as an Olympic sport — rugby sevens will be part of the games from 2016 — it is subject to the Olympic charter that rejects political interference in sport.

Since a military-led coup in 2006, unhealthy the New Zealand government has imposed travel sanctions against members of the Fiji military and their relatives.

Lakhan said: “We are a National Olympic Committee, we are affiliated to the International Olympic Committee and as president of FASANOC, I’m required to uphold the IOC constitution and FASANOC constitution which very clearly says we will resist all pressure of politicking, racial and religious nature in sport.”

“So we cannot agree to political interference in sport. I strongly believe that no country can dictate to Fiji as to who they should select. It should be left to Fiji Rugby Union. They should be at liberty to select their best team to take to the games.”

Lakhan has said that any ban on players with military links would force Fiji to send a B team to the World Cup, which begins on September 9 later this year.