Tonga Govt in talks to evacuate 52 athletes from Wuhan

The Tongan government has been working tirelessly to bring back 52 athletes and officials who was currently under quarantine in Changsha Hunan province.

Tonga Sports Association and National Olympic Committee General Secretary, Sisifo Takitoa Taumoepeau said there has been continuous  dialogue between New Zealand, Australia and even the United Kingdom on a possible route for evacuation.

He adds there are talks about where the athletes would be quarantined once they have left China.

“Our problem is that no Government (NZ, AUS and UK) are ready to absorb our citizens and quarantine them, even if we are able to uplift them. And our Ministry of Health has advised against bringing them as we do not have the facilities, expertise and very little area to be able to isolate these citizens (and while there is no vaccine yet),” said Taumoepeau.

Fifty-two athletes and officials from swimming, table tennis, boxing and weightlifting are currently in Wuhan after their return flights to Tonga, via Hong Kong, were cancelled due to the outbreak of coronavirus in the city. 

“It is very unfortunate that the situation reached this far as our contingent were all ticketed for the 4th and 7th February departure but all borders were closed during that week.”

“Our PM is constantly in contact with NZ and AUS local high commission office as well as the team leaders of our sports team in China. And we keep praying for an opportunity to try to bring them back,” Taumoepeau said.


Josephine Navula