Address at the I-Tatau for Team Fiji to the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
September 26, 2018 Boron House, Suva.
The Chef de Mission, Mr. Tomasi Tiko;
The Managers of Team Fiji – Mr. Calving Yee of Athletics, Mr. Robert Thackham of Badminton, and Ms. Carolyn Li of Table Tennis;
The Reverend James Bhagwan;
The Athletes of Team Fiji to the 2018 Youth Olympic Games; and
Members of the Media.
A warm bula vinaka and good afternoon to you all.
Two days ago, I had the opportunity to farewell the Under-18 and Under-16 rugby teams prior to their participation in test games in New Zealand and Australia.
Today, I have the pleasure of meeting and farewelling you, the officials and athletes to the 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games that will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 6th – 8th October.
I reflect on the Turaga Talatala Bhagwan’s timely message of spiritual strengthening and guidance before you embark on your journey to South America. Vinaka vakalevu Turaga Talatala for your presence and for sharing the Word of God with us. I believe that it is always important for us to heed and emulate the spiritual lessons conveyed to us and that we should always remember and be grateful about the fact that our ability to excel in sports is God-given, just as the Lord blessed each one of us with unique talents, He can also guide us on how to put those talents to great use, for the betterment of humanity!
The Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee have selected three exceptional athletes to represent Fiji at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games: Ms. Serenia Ragatu of Athletics, Ms. Grace Yee of Table Tennis, and Mr. Chang Ho Lee of Badminton.
Congratulations for making it into Team Fiji. You will not only be flying the iconic Fiji flag for your respective sport, but consider yourselves rising stars of a higher calling as ambassadors of our beloved nation, Fiji.
As young athletes, you represent a core of emerging elite sportsmen and sportswomen who are setting a benchmark of sporting excellence for up and coming athletes in your age group and representative National Sports Federations. To be chosen as part of Team Fiji to the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, would have involved a substantial degree of sacrifice and investment of your personal time and training to get you where you are today.
Your selection to represent Team Fiji would have meant establishing and surpassing your performances during major qualifying competitions at the national, regional and international levels such as the Melanesian Games that was held last year in Vanuatu, the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, and the 2018 World Cadet Challenge.
I acknowledge also the sacrifices that your respective families and your National Sports Federations have invested to pave the path to enable you to improve your performance and qualify for this year’s Youth Olympic Games. By virtue of your selection, you are effectively Fiji’s sports ambassadors to the world. You will also promote the Olympic values of Friendship, Excellence and Respect.
While this will be the first Summer Youth Olympic Games to be held outside of Asia and first Games held in the Southern Hemisphere, it will also be the first Youth Games for either summer or winter to be held outside the Euro-Asia regions. For the record, this year’s Summer Youth Olympics will be the first Games that will have the same number of male and female participants.
So you will be part of the 1,999 women and 1,999 men between the ages 15 to 18 years old, from 206 countries who will be competing. The Games will consist of 241 events with 1,250 medals to be contested for across a total of 32 sporting events. There will be 286 competition sessions, 468 sport initiation sessions, and more than 300 hours of live competition. Not only will the Youth Olympic Games expose athletes to international standards of competition, participants will also have the opportunity to learn and gain valuable lessons from the Athletes Educational Programme.
The Games will involve more than just a celebration of sporting prowess. Athletes will have the opportunity to experience a host of cultural performances and educational side events that will take place parallel to the Games proper. Team Fiji will be represented at selected forums by the Young Change Maker and FASANOC’s Voices of the Athletes Champion, Ms. Tessa Harman.
As one of the four Young Change Makers selected from the Oceania region, including Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand, this will be an opportunity for Ms. Harman to hone her leadership skills and gain new knowledge on areas such as injury prevention and anti-doping.
The Athletes Commission representative, Olympian and Chair of the Fiji Olympians Association, Mr. Carl Probert, and the Chair of FASANOC Women in Sports, Ms. Hamidan Bibi, will represent FASANOC at the first Olympism in Action Forum that will be held during the Youth Olympic Games. Sports journalist Grace Narayan will be attending the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Young Reporters Programme. Ms. Narayan will receive intensive training from some of the top names in Olympic reporting in print, photography, television, radio and social media.
I believe that we have a great team representing our beloved Nation in as many areas as we could possibly have. Congratulations once again to all of you.
It is my honour and pleasure to convey to you all the sincere best wishes of every Fijian as you participate in your respective events. Do enjoy the experience and be good ambassadors of our beloved nation.
Thank you, vinaka vakalevu, dhanyavaad, xie xie and May Almighty God continue to bless you and our beloved nation – Fiji.