7 Mar 2017

Sport: Samoa govt to review Olympic rewards policy

12:18 pm on 7 March 2017

The Samoa government says it will review its policy on monetary rewards for Olympic medalists following public pressure to recognise Ele Opeloge's historic achievement.

The weightlifter won Samoa's first Olympic medal at the 2008 Beijing Games, after being upgraded to silver when two competitors were disqualified for drugs.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said, last month, the government's policy was to only offers monetary awards for gold medal winners.

Samoa's Ele Opeloge at the Beijing Games, 2008.

Samoa's Ele Opeloge at the Beijing Games, 2008. Photo: AFP

Sports Minister Loau Keneti Sio said that policy would now be revisited.

"We are looking at putting a paper again and revisit that policy, whether we can put in place the ranking of the Games, so that we can have an idea which particular Games and which medal that we're supposed to be rewarding to the athletes," he said.

Samoa's Sports Minister, Loau Keneti Sio.

Samoa's Sports Minister, Loau Keneti Sio. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"If we can revisit that again that would be a good solution to come out with that situation."

The Samoa Observer newspaper launched a fund last month to raise money for Ele Opeloge after what it described as a "public outcry" over the Prime Minister's comments.

The fund is backed by the Samoa Weightlifting Federation and the National Olympic Committee.

Loau said the government was aware of the efforts being made on behalf of Ele Opeloge.

"Yes it has been noticed and I can see that people are wanting and hopefully that they can help, which I have nothing to go against with," he said.

"I have also pledged as well but no the government doesn't have anything to do with it in a way of their fundraising to have some funds for Ele."

Loau said the government is "thrilled and proud" of Ele Opeloge's achievement and what she has done for Samoa, and is looking forward to being involved in the official ceremony where she will receive her silver medal.

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