Rugby World Cup 2011
Fiji consider boycotting World Cup
May 31, 2011
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Fiji should consider boycotting this year's Rugby World Cup if sanctions prevent them from selecting their best team, according to the head of their Olympic Committee.
New Zealand are refusing to relent on a sanction that prevents Fijian citizens with links to Commodore Frank Bainimarama, whose military regime seized control of the country in 2006, from entering the country.
The stance could stop a number of Fiji's top players from travelling to the World Cup and Vidhya Lakhan, president of the Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee, has called for Fiji to boycott the tournament if the stance is not changed.
Fiji are to name their preliminary 50-man squad for the World Cup on June 4 and several players with military links are likely to be included.
"If New Zealand does not allow the best Fiji selection to take part in the RWC, then IRB should reschedule Fiji's matches in another country that will allow the best Fijian selection to take part in the Rugby World Cup," he told the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation. "And if IRB is not willing to do that, then Fiji should consider boycotting the RWC. That is our position."
Fiji's football World Cup qualifier against New Zealand was moved from New Zealand in 2009 when Fiji goalkeeper Simione Tamanisau was denied a visa and Lakhan believes the International Rugby Board (IRB) should follow suit.
The IRB has requested leniency for the Fijians but New Zealand Prime Minister John Key is refusing to back down on the issue.
Fiji's participation is also in serious doubt due to a lack of funds for preparation for and travel to the tournament which begins in September.
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