Aussie funding helps Pacific athletes attend Olympics

Australian taxpayers will help fund Pacific nations get to the looming Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris.

Sports in 13 Pacific nations will receive $1.47 million funding from the federal government in partnership with the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC).

The funding and logistical support will assist some Pacific rivals of Australian athletes at the July 26-August 11 Olympics and August 28-September 8 Paralympics.

Rugby Sevens, boxing, weightlifting, swimming and athletics are among 15 sports to receive support from the government’s PacificAus Sports program.

Federal Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Pat Conroy, said the program builds on a shared “deep and enduring love of sport” in Australia and the Pacific.

“The Australian government is proud to … support so many talented athletes from across the Pacific to realise their Olympic and Paralympic dreams,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

The government, which didn’t reveal the specific amount of funding, and the AOC hoped the program, described as a sports diplomacy initiative, would further strengthen Australia’s bond with Pacific nations.

The funding would help Pacific teams and athletes compete in elite competitions and access high performance coaching in Australia and internationally.

The AOC also assisted Pacific nations with training and logistical support for the Tokyo Games of 2021, which were postponed a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic – the funding helped send athletes including Papua New Guinea long jumper Rellie Kaputin to the Games.

Kaputin entered the Tokyo Olympics as the lowest-ranked long jumper and while not advancing through qualifying, finished ahead of nine other jumpers.

“The funding from Australia made a huge difference to me in my ability to be able to prepare for the Games as well as my competition at Games time,” Kaputin said.

“I’m very grateful to again have that level of support as I prepare to represent not only Papua New Guinea but my region at the Paris 2024 Olympics.”


Steve Larkin
(Australian Associated Press)


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