Cyclone Gita has caused the 2018 Marist Sevens a major blow – with two international teams pulling out at the last minute.
The historical participation by China and traditional rivals, Fiji Taveuni, will have to wait another year. Both teams have had to pull out because of problems created by the cyclone, which struck the country last weekend.
The withdrawal was confirmed by Tournament Director, Fata Brian Kaio.
“Unfortunately, we have just received this morning, Fiji and China have pulled out,” Fata said on Wednesday.
“It’s something that is out of control. But we have to adapt to it and we have to come up with other plans, which we have. It’s nature, we can only plan so much but we can’t force nature to comply.”
Fata said Fiji Taveuni team Head Coach made contact with the organisers where he relayed their dilemma. They were supposed to arrive last weekend but with the cyclone lashing Samoa, their departure was delayed. When Cyclone Gita moved from Samoa, it went to Tonga and also threatened Fiji, which further complicated matters.
Fata is particularly sad about China’s withdrawal, noting that a lot of preparations had gone on both sides – in Samoa and China – to ensure their participation.
“There was a lot of preparations that had gone into getting over the China sevens team, which included their delegations that visited Samoa earlier this year to see the facilities. We also had to work with them on their accommodations and all the arrangements for their participation.”
“Regrettably they have made a decision and informed the committee late last night that they tried their best but unfortunately given the circumstances and of flight arrangements, they are not able to make it.”
Fiji and China’s withdrawal has opened up the door for other local teams to take part (see other story in Sports).
The tournament’s Guest of Honour is none other than, Vala Uale Ma’i, who has been at the forefront of efforts to clean up the Club and grounds to ensure a smooth competition today.
Fata said they are looking forward to a great contest, noting that tickets cost $2 for general admission and $10 for grandstands.