20 Feb 2019

Sport: Two sports removed from Vanuatu Pacific Games team

12:55 pm on 20 February 2019

Rugby league and indoor volleyball have been removed from the list of sports that will represent Vanuatu at the upcoming Pacific Games in Samoa.

The Vanuatu Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee informed Vanuatu Rugby League and Vanuatu Volleyball Federation of their decision on Friday.

Vanuatu's national rugby league team

Vanuatu Rugby League will no longer feature at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa. Photo: Vanuatu Rugby League Facebook

VASANOC CEO Henry Tavoa said the decision was forced upon them because of an over subscription of seats on the charter plane due to fly Team Vanuatu's athletes and officials to Apia in July.

He said all national federations were informed of the criteria back in October 2017, which takes into account on field performance and the management and membership base of the various sporting federations in Vanuatu.

"When push comes to shove then we would inform the associations this is the criteria we would be following," he said.

"Unfortunately, the last thing we would like to do is remove teams from participating in any sports activities however given that we had no more choices except to apply our criteria the rugby league and indoor volleyball have been affected."

Vanuatu Olympic Committee CEO Henry Tavoa (c) with fellow VASANOC staff.

Vanuatu Olympic Committee CEO Henry Tavoa (c) with fellow VASANOC staff. Photo: Facebook/VASANOC

Henry Tavoa said every other eligible sport that wanted to attend the Pacific Games and met the relevant criteria will be represented in Samoa.

In a statement, Vanuatu Rugby League said it was "extremely disappointed in the decision", noting the same thing occurred in 2015 when they also missed out on competing in the inaugural rugby league nines event at the Pacific Games in Port Moresby.

"The VRL have not given up hope of still attending the Games and have vowed to explore every possible opportunity to compete at the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games.

"We've opened up promising dialogue with a number of parties, including VASANOC, and will be working with our stakeholders in the coming days to see if we can come to a suitable resolution."

Henry Tavoa said financial constraints mean flying additional athletes and officials to Samoa on commercial planes was not an option, however, one sport did request extra personnel before the December deadline and they will be travelling on a separate flight.

He said national federations could potentially send athletes to Apia at their own cost but they would still have to come under the responsibility of Team Vanuatu during the Games.

The Vanuatu Government is VASANOC's main financial supporter for the Pacific Games but Mr Tavoa said they are unable to offer further assistance due to their own budget difficulties.

Vanuatu's Youth Olympic team before departing to Buenos Aires

Vanuatu hosted the 2017 Pacific Mini Games in Port Vila. Photo: VASANOC