Australia Visa Scandal: We did our best; don’t blame us – Pius Hadzide
Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Pius Enam Hadzide, has said that his outfit should not be blamed for the visa scandal that hit the country’s participation at the 2018 Commonwealth Games held in Australia.
Some 65 Ghanaians, who claimed to be journalists, were billed to provide coverage for Team Ghana at the Games being held at Gold Coast in Australia, as they were issued visas as journalists from various media houses in Ghana.
However, they were either stranded, detained or deported from Australia by immigration authorities of Australia and transit countries like Singapore on suspicions of visa fraud.
According to Pius Hadzide, despite the hard work put in for the international games, he said it was rather an unfortunate instance at the turn out of events.
“I am sad that whatever happened, happened and it seeks to mare the rather hard work we put in at the international games community level.” He said
He indicated that the Ministry did everything possible to avoid a mishap of this nature.
He emphasized that the athletes, officials, and journalists who made an appearance at the multi-games event attested that the preparations put in place to put Ghana on the spotlight was one that was never seen in a long while.
“[And] if you speak to the athletes and officials, and this is on record, they themselves have spoken about it. The kind of preparation that we put into the Commonwealth Games, for a long time in Ghana, journalists, athletes, officials, they hadn’t seen that.” He told GhanaWeb Sport’s Editor, Daniel Oduro.
The Sports Minister, mentioning the ground works put in place, said athletes went through a three phase line-up of activities including non-residential campaign where athletes had to move to and fro from their homes to train with the federation.
For the second phase, the sports men were camped and went through series of exercises and the third where the team were moved to Australia to do the pre-games camping.
He further disclosed that the trainings, done for a month each, was at the cost of the state and ministry.
Displeased about the visa scandals and the outcome of the results of the game, he said, “For the longest of times we did anti-doping and anti-doping education. Because we didn’t want that embarrassment of a Ghanaian athlete who, maybe, due to the lack of knowledge would take in something and now fall foul of the anti-doping requirement.”
Meanwhile, the Minister has called for major reforms in Ghana sports stressing on international engagements. He explained that matters relating to travelling of the national teams need to be looked at critically to save the country’s image.
“We have to drive major reforms…even before the Commonwealth Games, we had started pushing for some reforms as far as the travel of national teams and federations are concerned.
"I think that we should push hard on it and ensure strict compliance,” Hadzide said.