by Vanessa Knight – EM TV, Port Moresby
The PNG Opposition has raised concerns regarding the government’s decision to award cash incentives to PNG medal winners taking part in the Pacific Games.
Opposition Leader, Don Polye, says the money should instead be focused on developing sports at the elementary level, and upgrading sporting facilities throughout the country.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Opposition Leader Don Polye said the decision to award K20,000 to gold medallists, K10,000 to silver medallists and K5,000 to bronze medallists may compromise genuine sportsmanship between athletes.
While Mr Polye commended the performance of Team PNG and the 23 visiting Pacific Island countries taking part in the games, he says the Opposition strongly discourages incentivizing the outcome of the games.
Meanwhile, in a telephone interview with EMTV News this afternoon, Sport Minister Justin Thatchenko described the Opposition Leader’s views as irresponsible and misinformed. He said that sport incentives awarded to athletes is a worldwide practice, and is purposely to assist athletes in enhancing their sporting abilities.
With most athletes lacking employment, Thatchenko says the money given to medal winners will not be abused, but rather used to purchase new equipment, enhance their education and further their training.
Mr Thatchenko explains that the decision was approved by the National Executive Council through recommendation from, and consultation with, the PNG Olympic Committee who is in charge of the welfare of the athletes.
PNG medallists have so far collected a total of K860, 000 worth of medals collectively in its first week of competition.