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Fijian weightlifters snub meeting held to end row over new coach
00:14 am GMT+12, 12/06/2018, Fiji

Fiji Association of Sport and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC) have expressed their disappointment after boycotting athletes did not attend a meeting aimed at resolving their dispute with Fiji Weightlifting.

Numerous athletes and officials announced a boycott in protest at the ousting of former national coach Joe Vueti, and the appointment of the 2000 Olympic 105 kilograms champion and former Iran and Oman head coach Hossein Tavakoli last month.

Vueti held the official title of national development officer, though he has been regarded as Fiji's national coach for many years.

The decision led to a led to a mass withdrawal of youth, junior and senior athletes from the Oceania Championships, due to take place from June 28 to 30.

This could result in Fiji's youngest lifters losing their chance to qualify for this year's Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires should they not attend the Championships in New Caledonia.

Eileen Cikamatana, Fiji's sportswoman of the year and one of the best young weightlifters in the world, has also indicated she would miss the Senior World Championships in November, an Olympic qualifying event for Tokyo 2020.

A FASANOC delegation travelled to Levuka last month to hear grievances of the athletes and share information they claimed was important for the athletes.

Levuka is the island where Vueti and most of Fiji's weightlifters live.

It was claimed by FASANOC that the organisation shared their own experiences and knowledge of how the structure of sports works in Fiji and the impact this conflict could have on the pathway of these high performing athletes.

A particular focus was placed on the potential impact on athletes who had secured International Olympic Committee scholarships for Tokyo 2020.

FASANOC claimed that, while the athletes had stated they would continue their boycott, the organisation felt a positive step had been taken with athletes having been "prepared to have dialogue with the Weightlifting Fiji Executive Board, on condition that the meeting is chaired by an independent facilitator".

The Levuka Club warned that the meeting must be held in Levuka, although FASANOC confirmed it would be held at Fiji Olympic House in Suva.

They hoped that at Levuka officials who are on the Board of Weightlifting Fiji and senior athletes would for the meeting yesterday.

FASANOC have expressed disappointment that while Weightlifting Fiji officials did attend the meeting, the boycotting athletes did not.

"FASANOC is disappointed at the stance taken by these athletes and officials as it believes that there has to be face to face dialogue between the two parties before any kind of resolution can be agreed on," Joe Rodan, the FASANOC President, said.

"Having done its part, FASANOC will respect the autonomy of Weightlifting Fiji, as an affiliated National Federation, to determine the course of action it feels necessary.

"It has, however, urged and encouraged the Federation to fully take into consideration the interest of the athletes involved."

Weightlifting Fiji claimed Tavakoli had been appointed as part of a programme to take the nation to a new level in the sport, and tied in with plans to create an elite performance centre in Suva.

Tavakoli has been appointed with funding and support from a Government-backed plan to appoint more foreign coaches.

Suva is due to host next year's IWF Junior World Championships.

SOURCE: INSIDETHEGAMES/PACNEWS

 


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