IN a historic announcement, the State has declared a national holiday recognising the contribution of sports towards national development.
The government yesterday gazetted a National Sports Day as a public holiday for next year.
The date of this public holiday will be finalised by the Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment and the Minister for Youth and Sports.
Minister for Youth and Sports Viliame Naupoto said the government recognised the value of sports to this nation and the immense contribution our sportsmen and women had made.
He added that the day was to encourage national participation from all ages, genders and races through sports across all sectors in society.
Naupoto said it would also be a fitting day to remember and celebrate the lives of our national sporting heroes.
"It also recognises that sport is an effective agent for unity and social change and it also helps build the characters of our young populace," he said in a statement.
"The sports public holiday will also augur well with our fight against non-communicable diseases and will contribute towards building a healthy nation."
Fiji National Sports Commission chairman Peter Mazey said they would be working closely with the Sports Ministry to plan the activities for the day.
He said they were planning to stage a national competition
"They have recognised the importance of the sport to the physical wellbeing of the country and that is a fantastic thing," Mazey said.
Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee secretary general and CEO Lorraine Mar said they were pleased with the announcement.
She recommended the Olympic Day which falls on June 23 for the National Sports Day.
"We would like to think that this is an indication of government's recognition of sport and its value as a vehicle for nation building, for promoting healthy and active lifestyles which leads to lower health costs, for social interaction in communities and for raising the profile of our nation on the world stage," Mar said.
"A National Sports Day would be a great day for our national federations to promote their sport and if Minister Naupoto is still trying to identify a suitable day, FASANOC would recommend Olympic Day as a perfect day for a National Sports Day holiday."