14 Apr 2020

Sports: Fiji sports grounds escape major damage

4:59 pm on 14 April 2020

Sports grounds in Fiji have escaped major damage from Cyclone Harold but officials must wait until the end of lockdown before they can fully assess the worst-hit facility in Sigatoka.

The Chief Operations Officer for the Fiji Sports Council, John Pickering, said Lawaqa Park, about a 70 minute drive south from Nadi, felt the brunt of the cyclone, compared with their other facilities, although the playing surfaces remains unscathed.

"[At] Lawaqa Park we had a whole fence fall to the ground. There was also damage, slight damage to one of our vehicles that was parked in Lawaqa Park," he said.

Lawaqa Park hosted the Coral Coast 7s in January.

Lawaqa Park hosted the Coral Coast 7s in January. Photo: Facebook/Coral Coast 7s

Lawaqa Park hosted the Fijian Drua's final regular season match in the 2019 Australian National Rugby Championship and regularly hosts local rugby, football and netball matches.

John Pickering said he was informed of the damage to their Sigatoka facility in a phone call last week but they will be unable to begin repairs until the national lockdown is completed.

"We've asked our guys in Lawaqa to send us some pictures of it but I think because of the intermittent power supply they haven't been able to do so we are hoping that as soon as the lockdown finishes, which is in the 14th day this week, we are hoping to run down to Sigatoka to have a quick look."

The Fijian Drua are the defending NRC champions.

The Fijian Drua also play some of their matches at Lawaqa Park. Photo: Supplied/Fiji Rugby

Mr Pickering said a handful of trees were also knocked over and branches snapped off at some of their Suva facilities, including the Damodar City Aquatic Centre, but this only took half an hour to clear.

The Fiji Sports Council closed its facilities three weeks ago, in accordance with the Ministry of Health's Covid-19 Advisory, and keep the doors shut until told otherwise.

The Fiji government yesterday declared a State of Natural Disaster in areas affected by last week's cyclone, including along the Sigatoka River in the Nadroga-Navosa province.

Chief Operations Officer for the Fiji Sports Council, John Pickering.

Chief Operations Officer for the Fiji Sports Council, John Pickering. Photo: Fiji Sports Council

"There's been a lot of waiting and we are hoping that this pandemic ends quickly so we can open our facilities quickly," Pickering said.

"When we sent out information to [local sporting federations] that we were closing they accepted it because they knew what was at stake."

John Pickering said the damage sustained to sporting facilities "is little, compared to those families and communities that have been badly affected by Cyclone Harold and we wish them the very best, in terms of recovery."