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Ban on Cooks swimmers: Rules are rules

Thursday July 11, 2019 Written by Published in Other Sports

Dear editor,

It’s sad to hear of our swimmers being banned due to the eligibility criteria.  However rules are rules.


To compete in the Pacific Games an athlete must meet citizenship and residency conditions, which is to hold a valid applicable passport for the country, and to have resided not less than five years cumulatively at any time in that country. 

The criteria were put in place to actually protect the smaller island nations, as you had larger nations such as Tahiti and New Caledonia bringing in athletes who were French and not of Tahitian or New Caledonia descent on work contracts for one or two years in the French territories, who would come in and clean up in the medals.  Hence the five-year residency criteria. 

There will be athletes getting away with it at these games as there is a deadline to issue a challenge and some codes would have taken up the opportunity to do their homework to issue challenges and some not.  What maybe needs to be done is have the South Pacific sports bodies revisit that criteria.

We have a lot of athletes of Cook Islands descent who have lived in New Zealand and Australia all their lives, so maybe the criteria should be those with one or both grandparents of Cook Islands blood without having to reside in the country five years. 

The Pacific Games is a pathway to world champs, Olympics and Commonwealth Games, providing ranking points important for our athletes aiming for qualification.

 Wishing all the very best to our athletes, and awesome seeing that medal tally each day.

Kia toa

Serena Hunter