The Chief Executive of the Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (S.A.S.N.O.C), Fepulea’i Patrick Fepulea’i, has responded to unhappy claims from the Samoa Surfriders Association (S.S.A) on being excluded from the 2019 Pacific Games.
In explaining the decision, Fepulea’i said surfing is not the only sport affected. Bodybuilding and Hockey are among the more prominent sports that have also been left out.
The President acknowledged that it’s disappointing that they have had to exclude the sports.
But given the time constraints, with Samoa only having two years to prepare, they have had to be strict with the programme.
Fepulea’i said Samoa can only have a certain number of sports for the Games.
“For the 2019 Pacific Games, only 24 sports will be offered. There are 16 compulsory sports and eight optional sports,” he said.
“With the smaller amount of sports allowed for 2019, we had to see which sports was active and undergoing local tournaments to make sure they are ready to deliver.”
Fepulea’i said he is genuinely sad they have had to exclude some sports. He said he has written to the Associations to explain the situation.
“I feel sorry for these sports that they are not included in the Games but I guess we have to make the right decision because there is not enough time left,” he said.
Earlier this week, the President of the Samoa Surfriders Association (S.S.A), Keith Martin, said he is devastated surfing has been left out.
“We are absolutely heartbroken,” he told the Samoa Observer.
In a letter to the Chief Executive Officer of the Pacific Games Council, Andrew Minogue, Mr. Martin asked if the decision could be reversed.
“We would sincerely hope that it is not too late to include surfing in the S.P.G. 2019 in Samoa,” Mr. Martin’s letter reads. “After having a very successful event in 2007, many countries have contacted me enquiring why surfing was not included.”
What’s infuriated Mr. Martin is that S.S.A was “never” contacted by S.A.S.N.O.C prior to the decision. He said they had even invited S.A.S.N.O.C offering Aganoa beach as a venue for the competition, as it was the case in 2007 when Samoa last hosted the South Pacific Games.
Mr. Martin had also written to President Fepulea’i.
“On behalf of the Samoa Surf Riders Association and 10 affiliated countries of Oceania we wish to request a letter explaining the reasons behind why surfing was dropped from the 2019 South Pacific Games, please?” his letter reads.
“Samoa hosted an extremely successful surfing event for the 2007 South Pacific Games, the only event held on Savai’i.
The Samoan surf teams have been training since then and competing in as many Oceania events as possible to be ready for this standard of international competition. We humbly request some explanation for our team as they are heartbroken to hear this news.”
According to Mr. Martin, the news is devastating.
“We have more than 10 countries wanting to take part but have been told they can’t change the format now.
“We have been training our athletes for ten years to represent their country Samoa. And I believe they are capable of Games medals especially held here at their home training ground.
“This is the first time ever surfing has been added to the Olympic Games 2020 in Japan. And the first time ever surfing has been axed from the South Pacific Games.”
At the beginning of the week, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi signed the Host Agreement for Samoa to host the 2019 Pacific Games.
“As you have witnessed the contract signing for Samoa to host 2019 South Pacific Games, and I can only say we will have the most successful games so far because I said so,” he said with a smile.
Tuilaepa assured that Samoa would be ready to host the Games.