Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Rio Olympics 2016: Jubilant Fijian welcome for golden sevens heroes

A Fiji fan celebrates his country's gold medal victory over Britain. Photo / AP
A Fiji fan celebrates his country's gold medal victory over Britain. Photo / AP

Singing, cheering and a few kava sessions await Fiji's golden sevens team, when they are welcomed home in true island style today. The Pacific's first Olympic gold medallists will touch down at Nadi this afternoon.

Authorities have appealed to the public to stay away from the airport, which is expected to be packed with fans. Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has asked locals to wear blue and fly the Fijian flag. "I urge every Fijian to display our flag when our victorious sevens team returns on Sunday and during our special national holiday on Monday.

"It is a time to celebrate not only their remarkable achievement, but our collective unity and sense of purpose."

The country continues to bask in the glory of their team's 43-7 defeat of Great Britain. Banners have been hung on buildings in Suva and the country's distinctive blue flag lines streets. A local T-shirt company told the Herald on Sunday it had received hundreds of requests from people wanting to buy specially made shirts.

The team will be bussed to Prince Charles Park, where a traditional Fijian ceremony and interfaith service will be held. Music will be played by a range of high school and village bands before speeches by Bainimarama and the team's coach, Ben Ryan.

A second welcoming ceremony and parade will be held in Suva tomorrow, which is an official celebratory holiday.

Each player will get $30,000 as part of a Government incentive scheme. Fan Khairul Nisha said Fijians were excited and couldn't wait to show off their love and happiness for their golden boys.

"There will be singing and dancing and presentation of gifts from the Fijian people. That is our tradition.

"It is the biggest thing the Fijian people have ever had. It's like a dream in heaven."

- Herald on Sunday

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