Criticism over involvement

Fe'ao Vunipola. Picture: KANIVA TONGA NEWS

NUKU’ALOFA – The management of TASANOC had been criticised for its involvement in legal action led by the Pacific Games Council (PGC) against the Tongan government.

Rugby union, rugby league, golf and netball committee leaders condemned the move during TASANOC’s annual general meeting last week in Nuku’alofa, Tonga Rugby Union (TRU) boss Fe’ao Vunipola told Kaniva News.

Vunipola said these sport committees, which came under the umbrella of the Tonga Federations Sport Association, relied heavily on the government for financial assistances.

The leaders questioned TASANOC’s move and asked why they did not consult them to get their views over the action. Vunipola said they did not support TASANOC’s legal action.

It is understood TASANOC president Lord Tēvita Tupou defended the move during the meeting and said they did it for the “best interest of the members.”

As Kaniva News reported last week, TASANOC and PGC have sought TP$8 million (US$3.5 million) damage from the Tongan government after the kingdom cancelled a 2012 agreement to host the 2019 Pacific Games.

According to the writ of summons issued at the Nuku’alofa Supreme Court on May 15, TASANOC has sought damages of TP$2,612,256,59 (US$ 1,168,732.24) from the government while the PGC sought $TP5,841,924.40. (US$2,597,344.37).

They seek a total amount of TP$8,497,581.17(US$3,796,208.86) in damages.

The CEO of the 2019 Pacific Games Organising Committee, Lord Sevele said earlier that only the TASANOC committee had the prerogative to cancel hosting the Games.

However, the government said the contract for Tonga to host the Games was signed between the Tongan government and the Pacific Games council, not TASANOC.

Pōhiva said he decided to withdraw from hosting the Games because Tonga could not afford to maintain the sporting facilities after the Games.

The dispute came after TASANOC was told last year to stop making excuses and commit itself to paying back its $600,000 (US$268,043) loan from the government according to a promise it made.

The call was made by Saia Piukala, who was the Acting Minister of Internal Affairs and Sports at the time when a TASANOC team met with the Ministry in a bid to secure the loan.

He said he approved the loan after a written agreement between TASANOC and the government was endorsed by the government’s solicitor general.

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