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COMMENT: By Shailendra Singh in Suva

This poignant photo by Max Vosailagi captures Fiji’s fixation with rugby sevens, with winning a second Olympic Gold last night by beating New Zealand 27-12 in the men’s final.

Two young boys, glued to what is apparently a TV screen through a neighbourhood front door during the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers, oblivious to their surroundings.

Covid restrictions could have prevented the boys from getting closer to the action.

Some quick Fiji reflections:

  • The sevens addiction starts young;
  • It’s inescapable — during game time every house with a TV will be tuned in;
  • If your house doesn’t have a TV, not a problem — the neighbour’s house probably has one;
  • Sevens is escapism from the country’s myriad problems, from politics to poverty.
  • It is more than escapism — it’s a career and income for players, not to mention the strongest uniting force in a country beset by ethnic tensions; and
  • Every young Fijian dreams of donning the national white team jersey one day.

Fiji is also playing in the women’s rugby sevens Olympic competition which begins today and ends with the gold medal match on Saturday.

Dr Shailendra Singh is senior lecturer and coordinator of the journalism programme at the University of the South Pacific. This comment is from Dr Singh’s social media posts and is republished by Asia Pacific Report with permission.

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