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PM declines to champion monetary awards for anything but the “GOLD”

Apia, SAMOA —Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi did not welcome suggestions by Member of Parliament Faumuina Wayne Fong for the government to consider a change in the policy where only gold medalists receive a monetary award from the Samoa Government. The comments from the MP were made during the discussions of the Casino Act of 2017, which would allow the Totalizer Agency Board (TAB) another 12 months to oversee the casinos in Samoa. The bill is now tabled after it was approved in second reading.

As reported earlier, proceeds from the casinos go to sports development in Samoa. According to Faumuina, the current policy, which requires the government to give monetary awards for gold medalists, should be amended. He said that he’s not particularly talking about the medals received from the Common Wealth Pacific Games, rather it’s the Olympic Games, which is a global event and those who receive medals should receive momentary awards.

He said that winning a Gold is a difficult dream to achieve and it’s unclear when that will come to pass for Samoa. Speaking in Samoan, Faumuina noted that having Samoa as a Silver medalist is a milestone as the Olympics is a rather difficult arena in which to place.

The MP pointed out that if he were to put a scale number for the Common Wealth games it would be a four or three but Samoa now has an Olympic silver medal yet there is no monetary award.

This issue came to light recently after Ele Opeloge was awarded the silver medal for the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing China. During that Olympics Ele originally placed fourth and last year she was informed that the second and third place medalists had tested positive for the use of drugs and she was elevated to Silver.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi disagreed with the PM and stated the issue of monetary awards for gold medals goes back to the foundation of the government and the government will not interfere with efforts for the players to aim for the best. “Meaning those who think that when it comes to a silver medal a large sum of money should be awarded is short sighted, very short… even with the Common Wealth Pacific Games, for many years we tried and then finally we got our gold medals.”

 “The truth is, a country does not become famous over a Silver medal, they’ll be famous when it’s a Gold Medal.” He urged Faumuina to leave the mindset of the Observer to the Observer, “You should bring forth to the floor new issues to discuss, but the government will not likely change its ways as these polices were not only created yesterday. Those who play at the international level know of this policy.”

“Don’t read the paper, and then bring it on the floor, bring forth other important issues to be discussed, amongst the committees and that will create solid foundations for the better. Also those who oversee the sports, it’s their mismanagement that leads to the poor performance of our players.” 

Last week the Samoa Observer initiated a fund for Opeloge. It’s unclear when the medal presentation will take place in Samoa and Ele has been informed that the current policy is that Samoa only gives money to gold medalists. This has led to the decision by the Samoa Observer Newspaper Group to start Ele’s Fund.