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iTatau Ceremony for Team Fiji to the 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast, Australia.

March 20, 2018       Boron House, Suva.

The Chef de Mission for Team Fiji to the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Mr. Patrick Bower

The former Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji, Mr. Barry Whiteside who I understand is a senior official for the sport of Badminton

Athletes and Officials

Ladies and gentlemen

The Chef de Mission for Team Fiji to the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Mr. Patrick Bower

The former Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji, Mr. Barry Whiteside who I understand is a senior official for the sport of Badminton

Athletes and Officials

Ladies and gentlemen

Ni sa bula Vinaka, Namaskar, Assalamu Alaykum, Ni Hao, Noa’ia e Mauri and a very good morning to you all.

My wife Sarote and I are deeply honoured to receive a component of Fiji’s largest contingent to any Commonwealth Games. And we are pleased to see many familiar faces among you.

As the Head of State, and in my additional capacity as the Patron of FASANOC, I consider it a privilege to share a few words of reassurance before you depart our shores to participate in the 21st Commonwealth Games that will be held between the 4th and 15th of April at the Gold Coast in Australia.

Congratulations to all of you for making it into TeamFiji. I am informed that we have a total of over 140 athletes and officials representing 12 sports. This is compared to 42 athletes and officials representing six sports at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland in 2014. And only six representatives in the men’s lawn bowls when Fiji debuted in the 1938 Commonwealth Games. 

I am very happy to note that the composition of the team has grown as well. There are 49 females and 47 males that make up TeamFiji to this year’s Games. Special congratulations to all the female representatives, and to all women and girls in general.

The increase in the size of the Team in both athletes and officials, as well the number of sports, is a huge achievement in as far as the development of sports in the country is concerned. I am sure the President of FASANOC, Mr. Joseph Rodan would love to see more numbers, but this of course will always be work in progress for our country.

For this year’s Games, the big contingent is a reflection of our growth as a Nation. We are already on our way to maturity as an independent and sovereign State. We have made an impressive turnaround with our economy with eight successive years of positive growth and an unprecedented ninth to be confirmed soon. We have taken on leadership positions in the international community including being president of the United Nations Climate Change negotiations or COP23.

At the domestic level, we are investing in our nation in a holistic and comprehensive way from human resources development to education, health, infrastructure and including state-of-the-art sports facilities, among others. All these are part of the Fijian Government’s commitments, which are clearly articulately in our 20-Year and 5-Year National Development Plan. 

For sports in particular, the country is committed to harnessing the natural talent of our sportspeople like you, and to enhancing your skills, knowledge, and competitive edge. As a nation, we are trying to leave behind a lasting legacy for our future generations. As members of our national team, you are actually part of the legacy of our maturity as a nation.

Ladies and gentlemen, including this year’s Games, Fiji would have competed in 16 Commonwealth Games. We have won 14 medals – including three Gold, four Silver and seven Bronze - across six sports since our first win in 1950. I have every confidence that you could emulate or even outdo the achievements of the past Games and set a standard that you and the Nation will be proud of.  

I wish to acknowledge and commend all of you and your respective families, sponsors and Government for all the preparatory work that has gone behind the scene to bring to fruition your participation at this year’s Games. I encourage you all to channel all the sacrifice into winning action on the field of competition. Be your absolute best. And remember that you have the support of every Fijian in this country and abroad. Importantly, I encourage you to enjoy the Games and be great ambassadors for our nation both on and off the field of play.

On a final note, as Fiji’s lead advocate and champion in the national campaign to promote wellness and healthy living, I urge all members of TeamFiji to join me in our collective effort to reduce Non-Communicable Diseases or NCDs. 

I had mentioned during the National Sports Awards two weeks ago that the Nation could channel more resources into sports development if we can help reduce our nation’s health bills, where we are currently spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually. We could have more highly trained athletes and officials and we will not just be Olympic champions in Sevens Rugby, but we could be World and Olympic champions in a lot more sports.

So, please continue to be active in sports and help promote a fit and healthy nation. We can do this together for our sportspeople and for our nation as a whole.

 Congratulations once again for making it into TeamFiji, and on behalf of all Fijians, I wish you all a resoundingly successful outing and a safe journey to and from the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. 

May God Bless you all and continue to bless our beloved nation.