Olympic ambitions ‘not relevant’ in row over swim ban

Friday July 12, 2019 Written by Published in Other Sports

The Pacific Games Council has dismissed Cook Islands complaints about the ban on four swimmers.

 

The four were refused permission to compete in Samoa, after it was discovered none of them had lived in the Cook Islands for five years, as the rules clearly stipulated.

Games chief executive officer Andrew Minogue rejected claims by the Cooks’ Sports and National Olympic Committee general-secretary Owen Lewis that the swimmers should have been eligible because they were seeking to qualify for the Olympics.

“Being an Olympic qualifier is not relevant in this case,” he told Cook Islands News.

He revealed that, despite the angry public protests from Lewis and from swim team manager Romani Katoa, the Cooks had conceded that three of the four were ineligible.

“The Cook Islands Olympic Committee withdrew three of them immediately and produced some paperwork for the fourth athlete,” he said.

Those documents did not satisfy the Disputes Tribunal panel of the Pacific Games Council, chaired by New Zealand lawyer Tim Castle.

Cook Islands News revealed on Tuesday that swimmers Bede Aitu, Kirsten Fisher-Marsters, Malcolm Richardson and Noah Vilisoni-Heather were all banned from competing at the Pacific Games after representatives from Papua New Guinea challenged their eligibility to compete.

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