Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka says remittance inflows from our sports men and women contracted abroad is one of our highest foreign exchange earners, with remittances between $30m and $60m (US$15 – $30 million) annually.

Rabuka said Fijians know what it would mean for a not just a family but a community or village when one of our own secures a sporting contract abroad.

“Remittances lift families out of poverty and families are able to meet basic needs and essentials such as housing, food, education and improved medical services.”

“Sports men and women have invested back into the country through real estate, land development and commercial farming to name a few,” Rabuka said.

The Prime Minister said Fiji is renowned as the home of Rugby 7s which attract tourists to our shores especially those that closely follow the 7s series.

“Our tourism industry gains from marketing mileage when our sporting teams participate in international events and international events contribute to our economy through visitor spending,” the Prime Minister added.

Rabuka said sports will be a conduit or a channel for the Government to continue to address issues like gender disparity, disability, youth empowerment and social inclusion.

He said initiatives like the Pacific Sports Partnership help create pathways for our young people, especially our women and girls.

Rabuka said the People’s Coalition Government will continue to invest in sports through modernising and building more state-of-the-art sporting facilities.

“Government will invest in the development of our elite athletes and also boost our level of participation in sports and physical activities supported by technical specialists.”

“The National Sports Policy is being reviewed to promote the participation of all Fiji citizens irrespective of ethnicity, gender or physical and mental ability. The policy will set out our vision for sports for 2023 and beyond,” Rabuka said.

He also stated that well-founded research have concluded that regularly active individuals have lower mortality rates and there are health benefits of being physically active regardless of age, ethnicity, disability and socio-economic status.

Rabuka said to help build a more active nation, Government will continue to promote and develop sports and physical activities to address health issues, in particular, NCDs and obesity.

He added that a nation’s workforce needs to be healthy and fit in order to be productive and contribute to the society.

Rabuka said Government will review relevant policies, including the National Sports Policy and the Anti-Doping Policy.

He said the Ministry of Youth and Sports will also review existing sporting infrastructure with key stakeholders prior to recommending to Cabinet key investment priority areas.

He said this is to ensure we offer excellent facilities that would attract more international sporting events.

Rabuka said sports is an industry and our goal is to make Fiji the sporting hub of the Pacific.

“Government intends to catapult individual sports towards an era of professionalism, with the necessary budgetary provisions to be channelled towards sports in the next financial year.”

Also, the Prime Minister indicated that the Government will support Team Fiji to the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad & Tobago, the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara, and the much-anticipated Paris 2024 Olympic Games next year.

He said Government will engage with the respective stakeholders to bring the 2031 Pacific Games to Fiji.

“I encourage aspiring future athletes present or watching me on the live television broadcast, to keep striving to be the best they can be. Remember that with hard work, dedication, and perseverance, you can achieve great things,” Rabuka added.