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Fiji loses world netball champs

Sunday, December 10, 2006

THE International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA) yesterday withdrew the 2007 World Championships from Fiji.

It has been described as one of the saddest days for sports in the country.

IFNA which had been monitoring the political situation in Suva eventually decided to take away from Netball Fiji the right to host the World Netball Championships scheduled for July 10-21 at the FMF Dome in Suva.

IFNA's leading affiliates had supported moves to take the WNC from Fiji because their respective government has made a stance on sporting ties.

Malaysia and Jamaica pulled out of the championships this week while New Zealand and Australia were to follow suit as pressure mounted on IFNA.

NZ Prime Minister Helen Clarke raised her concern in their parliament on Thursday on why IFNA was taking time to pull the championship out of Fiji.

There is no confirmation yet on where the event will be held but there were speculations it might be hosted by New Zealand because Australia is bidding for the 2011 meet.

IFNA president Molly Rhone said it was unfortunate the meet had to be moved from the country.

"It is deeply regretted that we have had to take this decision, recognising the hard work that has been done by the organising committee in preparing to host their first senior world championships," Rhone said.

"We know that many supporters around the world were looking forward to this great sporting event in Fiji.

"IFNA will now be working assiduously to find a new venue to host the Championships. We will keep everyone updated on our progress and any further decisions taken."

Netball Fiji President Alisi Tabete said it was a very sad day for sports in the country and all the hard work put in over the past few years had gone to waste.

"We had been working on this event from 1999 and right now I am trying to reason with myself as to why the championships has been lost and just thinking what if," Tabete said.

"We have to think positive and am still thankful that we had been given a chance for the champs."

She said they hadn't been informed where the championships would be held but the preparations under the guidance of national coach Vilimaina Davu would continue for the players.

"We had also planned for a 10-match back to back tour of New Zealand in May next year but we're not sure if that will go ahead as well due to the sporting ban in place by New Zealand," she said.

"The players will however, continue training and with the tours by Australia and New Zealand in January and February next year cancelled as well we will have to continue as we have been doing all along."

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