Bula Vinaka and a very good day to you all.
There is an old saying: “What matters is not the size of the contender in the fight. What matters is the size of the fight in the contender.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, Fiji is a small contender with a huge heart, a strong punch, and a lot of fight inside it.
When you march into the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo under our flag of Fiji blue, you carry the support and the ambitions of every Fijian. And when you step up to compete in your event, every Fijian will be at your side, knowing that you will give everything you have inside you at that moment. You will give all your strength, all your endurance, all your spirit, and all your concentration to perform better than you have ever performed. And when you have done that, you will have represented Fiji proudly and nobly.
We Fijians take a back seat to no-one. We don’t have the resources of a large developed country with millions of people. That has never constrained our greatness.
On a given day, in a given moment, the best team or individual can come from anywhere, and inspire their nation and the world.
Five years ago in Rio, our men’s rugby Sevens were the best when it counted. I’m sure all the men on that team know that it could have ended differently but for one play, one kick, one extra effort. The Olympic Games are very unforgiving of any lapse, any faltering, or any failure to seize an opportunity.
When our Sevens team came back with gold, the whole nation was ecstatic. It was a point of great pride for us, our first Olympic medal—and it was gold.
But it was more than that; it was a lesson to us all that Olympic gold can be ours for the taking if we work hard enough, train hard enough and play hard enough. Of course, you know that our best might not be good enough—because we are playing against the best. And the best all have something in common: They all work hard, train hard and play hard. And they all strive to come out on top.
I am impressed, and I think most people are impressed, by the respect Olympic athletes have for each other—by the kindness they show each other and the camaraderie they share. It is a lesson to all of us that the Olympic Games are not just about winning.
The Olympic Games are about the human drive for excellence, for perfection. When we compete against the best, we get better. We take the human body beyond the limits it had once known. The most important thing is to hold nothing back, to seize this Olympic moment. When we leave everything on the field or in the arena, when we hold nothing back, we have fulfilled the Olympic spirit and brought honour to our country.
I know—and you certainly know—that there is no guarantee of victory in the Olympic Games. That is one thing that makes the games so dramatic and exciting. Our men’s Sevens set a high standard in Rio and created high expectations for the Fijian people.
Expectations are good. We go to the games expecting glory because we have tasted it in the past. It is a part of our national athletic experience. If you hope to win, you first must believe you can win. But there can be only one winner, and there are only three places on every medal stand.
So yes, I hope you will all come home with medals hanging around your necks. Like every Fijian, I hope to hear the strains of “God Bless Fiji” playing for the world to hear—playing so often that millions of people learn the tune and the words. But you honour your country by your effort, by showing the world what kind of people we are—in our play, in our sportsmanship and in our behaviour on and off the field.
On behalf of every Fijian, I must sincerely thank you for the sacrifices you have made and the hard work you have done to get to this point.
I will join the rest of the Fijian people in following every minute of every event carefully. We will be with you whenever you compete in Tokyo. Do your best and show the world what kind of heart and what kind of fight are in this country of ours. And then we will surely be champions.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.