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Opening of International Weightlifting Federation Executive Board Meeting

May 30, 2019       Novotel Convention Centre, Lami

Dr Tamas Ajan, President of the International Weightlifting Federation;
Members of the International Weightlifting Federation Executive Board;
Members of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) Staff;
Participating Athletes of the 2019 IWF Junior Weightlifting Championships;
The Chairperson and Members of the Suva Organising Committee; and
Distinguished guests/Ladies & Gentlemen.

Ni sa bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

It is indeed a great honour and pleasure for me to welcome you all to Fiji to attend the Executive Board meeting of your International Weightlifting Federation prior to the official Opening Ceremony of this Championships and the Competition on the afternoon of the 1st June 2019. A very warm welcome and bula vinaka also, to the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) colleagues who were here in Suva in 2016 to attend the Oceania Weightlifting Championships and I am pleased to see a number of familiar faces and to welcome you back to Suva and Fiji.

Fiji is a small country with a population of approximately 850,000 people and for many of the Executive members and representatives from the 49 countries here represented, you may sometimes find it difficult to find Fiji on any map, often labelled and referred to as a tiny dot in the Pacific Ocean.  Many years ago, our beloved Fiji piloted the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) in our local aircraft – a system that eventually has become the standard operating system for airlines around the world.  Thanks to this technology, you have all managed to arrive here safely after many long hours of travel.

During your stay here, you will notice that we have quite a diverse population with representation from most of the Pacific Islands and beyond, apart from the indigenous people of Fiji.  The one thing we all have in common that strongly binds us as a People and Nation is our interest in sports and the passion we have in following our National teams, whether they compete locally or overseas in International Sporting Events.  

In the Rio Olympic Games of 2016, we won our first Olympic Gold medal in the shortened version of the International Rugby Board’s IJ’s Code, - Seven’s Rugby.  Last weekend, our National team won the London Seven’s tournament and is one of four (4) teams that have now qualified to play in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.  Moreover, our gallant 7s Rugby Team now leads the International Rugby Board’s 2018/2019 World Rugby Series with the last tournament to be played in Paris this weekend.

Our National Women’s Netball team has qualified to play in the World Championships being held in England in July. The National Women’s Hockey team has also qualified to play in Round two (2) of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) World Series in mid-June in Hiroshima, Japan – one of three (3) qualifying tournaments for the Tokyo Olympic Games.  In early July, over 500 athletes and officials will be travelling to Apia, Samoa to take part in the Pacific Games in which eight (8) sports are qualifying events for the Tokyo Olympic Games.  Australia and New Zealand will be competing with the Pacific Islanders in these eight (8) sports which include Weightlifting.  

When it comes to Sports and on this occasion – Weightlifting – Fiji always pride itself as a small country with a relatively small population base – But, is capable of “Punching Well Above its Weight”.  Fiji aspires to become a regional training centre for sports and we are also preparing to bid to host a future Pacific Games which will make it the fourth (4th) time we have hosted this Continental Games since the first Games were launched in Fiji in 1963.

In 2017, Fiji bid to host the 2019 IWF World Youth Championships and we were very proud and equally grateful when the International Weightlifting Federation awarded Weightlifting Fiji the opportunity to host the event.  The decision to host this year’s International Weightlifting Federation Championships in the Vodafone Arena would not to be so, for sadly, the renovations of the facility will not be completed until after the World Youth Championships.  This has caused some logistical problems and on behalf of Fiji Sports, I sincerely apologise for the resultant outcome which necessitates the hosting of this event in a smaller facility/venue.

Nevertheless, we will work hard with our colleagues and friends from the weightlifting fraternity to provide the best conditions for the athletes attending this event to enable them to perform at their best.

Once again, welcome to Fiji and I wish you well in your deliberations today and the competitors every success in the competition to follow.  To our visitors, please enjoy our traditional and unique Fijian hospitality and thank you for gracing our shores with your attendance.

Vinaka vakalevu, thank you and may Almighty God bless you all and our beloved Fiji.