SPORTS

Dr Mitchell Signs Deal

The Oceania would be taking part in eight sports at the 2017 Asian Indoor Games to be held in Ashgabat. The eight sports include tennis, short course swimming, indoor athletics,
17 Dec 2014 11:33
Dr Mitchell Signs Deal

The Oceania would be taking part in eight sports at the 2017 Asian Indoor Games to be held in Ashgabat.

The eight sports include tennis, short course swimming, indoor athletics, indoor hockey, volleyball, karate, chess and billiards and snooker.

This is following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) president Dr Robin Mitchell, Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) President Sheikh Ahmad Al- Fahad Al-Sabah and the President of Turkmenistan – Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in the Turkmenistan capital Ashgabat signalling a new relationship in sport between the continents of Asia and Oceania.

This historic signing on November 28 didn’t just happen overnight, it took four years and so many discussions to finally put pen to paper.

Dr Mitchell has invited the organisers of the 2017 Asian Indoor Games in Turkmenistan to make a presentation in Suva, Fiji next April during the 2015 ONOC General Assembly.

Associate members of ONOC such as the French territories of New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna will also be able to participate. It means that the 23 nations from Oceania will compete alongside 45 NOCs from Asia in 2017.

More meetings in the coming months are planned to spell out the finer details.

ONOC president Dr Mitchell a former Fijian athlete in several disciplines said the discussions started with Fiji’s exclusion from the 2010 Commowenalth Games in New Delhi, India.

“This started before the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi when Fiji was suspended and weren’t able to go,” Dr Mitchell said.

Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC) protested Fiji’s exclusion.

“We went to Kuwait for a ANOC (Association of National Olympic Committees) Executive meeting and I raised the possibility of Fiji taking part in the South East Asia Games at that time Guam had been going quite regularly.”

Dr Mitchell said that at one stage after Australia got into the Asian Games, New Zealand and Fiji were considering going there as well but would be competing against Asian powerhouses- China, Korea and Japan.

“The level was probably too high for what we need to do, whereas with our South East Asian friends we had competed against them in the Arafura Games in Darwin. Even their state teams from Malaysia, Singapore and in the case of hockey they were just a little bit above us, it was good for our standards.

“At the time of our discussion, Australia was already in Asia, so the Sheikh wasn’t happy that only one member of the continent was competing there.

“ So he said let me look at it, so when the Sheikh says something like that to you the answer often surprises you.”

It was in another later meeting that Dr Mitchell and Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah discussed how it was going to materialise.

According to Dr Mitchell the Sheikh felt that it would not be appropriate to get Oceania into the Asian Games straight away.

“I don’t think we should put you in the Summer Games or Continental Games but lets go to the Indoor Games,” said the Sheikh.

He told the ONOC president that Turkmenistan was trying to establish itself as a sports power in the Central Asian group and the President of Turkmenistan who happens to be president of their National Olympic Committee was putting a lot of money into sport.

The Turkmenistan government has committed five billion dollars for the hosting of the Games. ONOC

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