Tonga hopeful its flag will fly in Rio

Tongan athletes may still compete in the Rio De Janeiro Olympic, even if Tonga is suspended from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Dr Robin Mitchell, President of the Oceania National Olympic Committees said in Nuku’alofa.

The Tongan athletes would, however, be parading under the IOC flag and not under the Tongan flag.

When all financial assistance from the IOC to Tonga was suspended in June 2015 the Tonga Sports Association/National Olympic Committee (TASANOC) was given a deadline for 15 February to shape-up.

The IOC has demanded that TASANOC submit missing financial reports and make some fundamental changes to its Constitution within the February 15 timeline.

Dr Mitchell joined TASANOC President Lady Robyn Tu’ivakano and the Secretary General Takitoa Taumoepeau at a press conference Friday to clarify the suspension of financial assistance to Tonga rom IOC.

The funding suspension was due to a communication break down between TASANOC and IOC, when TASANOC failed to present its annual reports, and reports of IOC funded programs, which were specifically aimed at the development of Tongan athletes.

Dr Mitchell said the financial contribution from IOC to TASANOC had amounted to USD$110,000 annually.

There were also other assistance programs, including an Olympic Solidarity World Programme, IOC President’s special assistance, and Continental Programmes that are managed by the Oceania National Olympic Committee (ONOC).

So far the only country in the world that has been fully suspended from the IOC is Kuwait.

Administration funds

In January, Dr Mitchell and a colleague spent time in Tonga at the TASANOC office to help with their backlog of work, and he was happy to announce that  “Last week we started sending money to TASANOC to help with the administration of the office.

“More funding will be coming on Monday, and as soon as TASANOC submits their annual report, the funds for 2016 will be released,” he said.

Dr Mitchell was in Tonga with an ONOC media person, Matai ‘Akau'ola to attend an Extraordinary General Assembly that was held on Thursday, 4 February.

The Extraordinary General Assembly was demanded by the IOC, and the specific issues to be addressed included the adoption of a newly revised Constitution.

Dr Mitchell said he was pleased with the outcome of the meeting and that TASANOC should be able to present its constitutional change report to the IOC at its Annual General Meeting in March.

The ONOC officials also wanted to work with the Tongan media to establish a Tonga Sports Journalists Association.


In response to the Prime Minister's comment in the House on February 4 that TASA is broke and can't pay their power and electricity bills, Takitoa denied that they are bankrupt.

He said that TASA received funding from a number of sources, normally 85% of its money came from IOC, 10% from the Commonwealth and 5% from Pacific Games Council, and also they had received money from government.

Lady Robyn further clarified that they received money from government and were using that fund for public services and therefore they were not borrowing the money from government