By BRONWYN SELL
Fiji is being sidelined from New Zealand and Australian sporting events and both Governments are warning that sporting sanctions could be imposed.
The NZ Minister for Sport, Trevor Mallard, last night said the cancellations sent a message to Fijians to sort their country out.
Late yesterday, Netball NZ called off two test matches between the Silver Ferns and the Fiji netball team scheduled for this month in New Zealand.
Chairwoman Kereyn Smith said the organisation cancelled the tour after consulting Fiji Netball. She said it was difficult for the Fiji team to train and finalise plans.
Chief executive Shelley McMeekan said she hoped contact with the world number-six team would be re-established shortly.
"[We] hope that the situation in Fiji is resolved so a potential tour in the future can form part of their nation's rebuilding process."
The Silver Ferns will instead play a Pacific Islands regional team, which will not include Fiji players.
The Rugby Union has told its Fiji counterpart that the political situation could affect a Fiji tour of New Zealand and Fiji's participation in an under-21 tournament in Auckland, both this month.
Spokeswoman Jackie Maitland said the Rugby Union had discussed the issue with the Government but no pressure had been put on the union.
Foreign Minister Phil Goff has said he expects the union to consider withdrawing invitations to Fiji teams, and the Government is talking with sports bodies about their Fiji contacts as part of its "smart" sanctions.
The Olympic torch relay will bypass Fiji because of safety issues, and Australian newspapers say the Fiji rugby team could be banned from visiting.
An Auckland rugby league side has called off a tour to Fiji and yachts racing from Auckland to Savusavu were told to turn back on Tuesday morning because of safety concerns.
Mr Mallard said he was pleased sporting bodies were treating the issue seriously.
"I think the decisions made so far have been the right decisions and I am sure that the responsible attitude will continue."
The Fiji national soccer team have withdrawn from a Pacific Island tournament, but the rugby team are competing in a Pacific tournament, although a game scheduled for Suva was moved to Tonga on Monday.
NZ Olympic team psychologist Gary Hermansson said the coup would have contributed to Fiji's unexpected loss at the weekend's rugby sevens tournament in Paris.
Players would have been distracted and aware of growing international condemnation, he said.
"They showed little of their usual confidence, flair and dominance."
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By BRONWYN SELL