Posted by TVNZ News - January 30 2011
A report that New Zealand could be forced to host the interim head of Fiji's government, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, during the Rugby World Cup (RWC) is "plain wrong", Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully said.
The Sunday Star Times reported that Bainimarama's brother-in-law, convicted killer Francis Kean, was seeking the chairmanship of the Fiji Rugby Union and that if he was successful, Bainimarama was expected to become its president.
New Zealand would then have to host both men at the September-October RWC - at a cost of $45,000 to the taxpayer - despite both being banned from entering New Zealand.
But McCully rejected the report and said New Zealand, as a sovereign nation, had total control over who could visit the country at all times, including during the RWC.
"Members of the Fiji military regime are currently covered by sanctions, which means that any request for a visitor's visa would be denied," he said.
Anyone denied a visa could apply for an exemption, and that request would be considered by the government.
"Under current circumstances, any such request (from the Fiji military regime) will be denied. I have made this position clear to the International Rugby Board," McCully said.
"Obviously we do not want to exclude anyone from the Rugby World Cup. But the position currently is very clear. The sanctions apply.
"The story in today's Sunday Star Times newspaper is mischievous and plain wrong.