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‘Positive focus’

Monday July 15, 2019 Written by Published in Sports
Liam Ratana in Samoa at the 2019 Pacific Games. Liam Ratana in Samoa at the 2019 Pacific Games.

The Sports and National Olympic Committee has criticised media coverage about swimmers being excluded from the games, saying journalists should “focus on the positives”.


The Cook Islands News revealed last week that the Pacific Games Council had ruled swimmers Bede Aitu, Kirsten Fisher-Marsters, Malcolm Richardson and Noah Vilisoni-Heather ineligible to compete.

In an anonymous social media statement, the committee claimed it had withdrawn its athletes, and they were not banned.

The unattributed statement also claimed that none of the ineligible swimmers had travelled to Samoa for the Pacific Games.

However, that is understood to be incorrect: Vilisoni-Heather was already in Apia with the team, when he was banned from competing.

Pacific Games Council chief executive Andrew Minogue said the Council had received challenges and found four swimmers were ineligible.

The Cooks agreed to withdraw three of them, but the fourth case had to go all the way to the Disputes Tribunal for a ruling.

The unattributed Olympic Committee post said that instead of reporting the athletes’ exclusion, “maybe it would have been more positive to do a story on the … potential further medals that would have been won if our other Cook Islands athletes, who had trained for months leading up to this event on the basis that it was an Olympic Qualifier, had been able to compete.”

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