PtG Article 29.08.2011

Fiji rugby head denied access to World Cup

Head of Fiji’s Rugby Federation's board had to stay in Fiji while his team left for New Zealand on Monday because of New Zealand sanctions imposed after a 2006 military coup in Fiji. The sanctions do not allow anyone associated with the self-instated military regime in Fiji to enter New Zealand.

A part from being head of the Fiji Rugby Federation Board, Lieutenant Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga is also commander of the military land forces in Fiji and has therefore been denied entrance to New Zealand.

New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs and Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully has been clear that the sanctions would apply during the World Cup as well.

“We’ve made it very clear all the way through [that] those who are associated with the regime or with the military are on the list to whom sanctions apply, we made it clear we wouldn't be relaxing those sanctions for the Rugby World Cup,” he said according to

“One of the senior players, Mr Nakarawa, resigned from the military and was discharged and was given an exemption to come. If these gentlemen [Tikitoika and another Fijian denied entrance] took the same course of action, we'd obviously consider their cases on their merits.” In response to McCully’s explanation Tikoitoga, who clamis New Zealand is wrongfully mixing sports and politics said:

“I think that's a stupid comment. I’m a military officer and I have never hidden the fact that I am. I would never leave my country. I would never quit just for the sake of the New Zealand government.”

The Rugby World Cup begins on 9 September 2011.