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Fiji President Officially Opens Sports Symposium

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(From L-R): His Excellency Major General (Ret'd) Jioji Konusi Konrote, President of Fiji and USP’s 24th Chancellor, and Hon. Laisenia Tuitubou, Fijian Minister for Youth and Sports deliver their address.

His Excellency Major General (Ret'd) Jioji Konusi Konrote, President of Fiji and the 24th Chancellor of The University of the South Pacific (USP) officially opened the Inaugural Pacific Research Symposium on Sport and Sustainable Development at the University’s Laucala Campus on 20 June 2018.

The two-day Symposium is one of the official events celebrating the University’s 50th Anniversary this year and aims to ‘celebrate’ the contribution of sport to sustainable development and ‘shape the future’ of the research agenda underpinning sport, sustainable development and public policy globally and specifically in Pacific Island Countries and Territories.

H.E Konrote highlighted that Pacific region takes pride in its people’s passion for sport and the prowess of Pacific Island athletes.

He stated that there are more and more success stories of Pacific Island athletes participating in major sporting events including the Olympic and the Commonwealth Games, adding that this points to a critical, yet unique contribution of sport to economic development, and recognised as
income, job creation and remittances.

Sport, as a universal language, H.E Konrote said, has the power to bring people together regardless of their background, status and origin.

“Because sport transcends differences, its inherently social nature is a powerful tool and platform to engage vulnerable groups, particularly women and persons with disabilities, in activities which not only improve their physical fitness, but also build their confidence, and nurture leadership skills,” H.E Konrote commented.

Talking about the region’s athletes with disabilities, he highlighted that they are powerful role models showcasing ability and inclusion, and an important reminder that governments have a responsibility to create enabling environments and leave no one behind.

The President congratulated the University and its partners on the new research project featuring case studies of the economic and social impact of sport in Fiji and Samoa and added that, “we should all welcome the inclusion of sport on the University’s research agenda.”

The Symposium served as the last official engagement of H.E Konrote as the 24th Chancellor of USP, and as part of the opening, he announced that the Research Office will introduce a new Pacific Regional Sports Research Scholarship programme.

The new scholarships are designed to build the research capacity at USP in line with the University’s strategic research themes, strengthen the evidence base on the contribution of sport to sustainable development, and inform policy development and regional investments in and through sports in Pacific Island Countries and Territories.

(Third from L-R): Hon. Laisenia Tuitubou, Fijian Minister for Youth, His Excellency Major General (Ret'd) Jioji Konusi Konrote, President of Fiji and USP’s 24th Chancellor and Professor Richard Coll, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, LTSS with participants of the Symposium.

H.E Konrote commented that for the University, this will increase the number of Postgraduate scholarships in areas of regional need and the Pacific Regional Sports Research Scholarships will be celebrated as one of the sustainable legacies of the USP’s 50th Anniversary.

Honourable Laisenia Tuitubou, Fijian Minister for Youth and Sports said that in an often divided world, sport is a unique and important connective tissue that binds people together, both across and within societies.

“As we think about the forums that unite us as people, regardless of background or beliefs, it is hard to think of many as powerful as the stadiums we fill to cheer for our favourite teams and players, or the fields where we play together for pleasure and exercise,” Hon. Tuitubou said.

He informed that the Pacific Islands Sports Ministers have affirmed their commitment to “Strengthen Sports and Sustainable Development” in the region and that they are discussing the action plans.

Hon. Tuitubou  said that Fijian Government, through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, is committed to develop and promote sports for all in a variety of ways and added that they also use sport to promote Fiji in the international tourism market.

Having hosted a number of regional and international sports events, the Minister announced that Fiji will host the International Weightlifting Federation World Junior Weightlifting Championships next year and in 2021, the country will host the International Netball Federation World under 20 Netball Cup.

Professor Richard Coll, USP Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Learning, Teaching and Student Services (LTSS) said that since its inception, USP has been committed to fulfilling the challenge of providing the highest possible quality of education and research while addressing the changing circumstances and needs of the Pacific region. 

He further stated that the four (4) themes of the Symposium explore the contribution of sport to the Sustainable Development agenda and its ethos of leaving no one behind through the lens of access to sport, physical activity and physical education.

He added that the University appreciates the collaborations with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) in hosting the inaugural Research Symposium, adding that “we look forward to ongoing partnerships and engagement as together, we take forward the agenda to maximise the contribution of sport to sustainable development here in the Pacific.”

The symposium featured keynote addresses from international and regional experts on contemporary challenges in Sport for Development and Peace, and panel discussions across the core themes of Contribution of Sport to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); Sport and Public Policy; Measuring the Impact of Sport on Society; and Leaving no one behind in Sport.

This news item was published on 26 Jun 2018 11:18:05 am. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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