19 Jul 2016

Sport: Tonga still hopeful government will offer funds for Olympic campaign

1:03 pm on 19 July 2016

Tonga's National Olympic Committee has yet to receive any financial support from the government towards their athletes competing at next month's Rio Olympics.

Tonga will send seven athletes to Brazil in swimming, athletics, archery and taekwondo.

The Interim Secretary General and CEO for the Tonga's National Olympic Committee, Takitoa Taumoepeau, said a request for funding support was made to the government at the start of the month.

"Obviously the IOC and Rio 2016 cover a lot of the funds...particularly for travel. We have requested government for some assistance. We are looking at it again, since the last time we had some financial assistance was the 2015 Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea. We are also talking to the International Olympic Committee and the Oceania National Olympic Committee for some remaining fund that we can access and we have been identified not a lot but they still have some to help our athletes who have qualified."

Takitoa Taumoepeau admitted it had been a turbulent period in the four-year build up to Rio, during which TASANOC had faced a series of administrative and financial problems.

Tonga's Pita Taufatofua celebrates qualifying for the Rio Olympics.

Tonga's Pita Taufatofua celebrates qualifying for the Rio Olympics. Photo: Pita Taufatofua / Paula Sitapa / Tonga Taekwondo Association

He said the commmunity had been very supportive in fundraising for their Olympic athletes, while the likes of taekwondo star Pita Taufatofua have held a number of fundraising events to support their individual preparations.

"They've forked out I think some from their own (pockets) but at the same time we're just trying to encourage them because this is a new Executive Board and they are very proactive in assisting particularly for the Games. We have put aside some of our programmes and tried to plough in those extra funds just to help towards the athletes."

"Since now we've just started the new financial calendar...but so far (The government) haven't given us (any money) but I've just learned in the grapevine that probably they will reconsider their decision because we tabled a letter of application of request a couple of weeks ago and it wasn't approved but I think they would like to look at it again," he said.

"This is not just for the athletes, this is for Tonga. These athletes when they do well, it's not Pita or Karoline (L. Tatafu) or John or Tom, Dick and Harry, it's the country, it's Tonga, so I'm sure that the government will be forthcoming and supportive."

Tonga's confirmed athletes for the Rio Olympics:

Archery - Karoline L. Tatafu (one to be confirmed)

Taekwondo - Pita Taufatofua

Athletics - Siueni Filimone, Taina Halasima

Swimming - 'Amini Fonua, Irene Prescott