Fiji postpones all sporting competition following measles outbreak

Fiji has asked its sporting federations to postpone all competitions until end of January, in a bid to rein in the spread of the deadly measles outbreak in Samoa.

Fiji has a much higher vaccination rate than Samoa, with only 15 confirmed cases in the country as of Tuesday, but health officials have warned people to avoid affected areas and cancel events likely to draw crowds.

"The gathering of youth and people for sporting events is not right and we should discourage it," said Peter Mazey, the chairman of the Fiji National Sports Commission.

"Working with the health ministry, we are going to try to stop it, now that we have 15 cases in the country."

In a statement released in conjunction with the Fiji Olympic Committee and Fiji's Ministry of Sports, the National Sports Commission advised all national sporting organisations, federations, associations and clubs to postpone all events happening in the months of December 2019 and January 2020 until further notice.

"We request that all take the necessary action of this advisory notice to assist with the Ministry of Health in their efforts to control the spread of the measles outbreak," the statement read.

Fiji's football, beach volleyball and netball governing bodies have already suspended competitions in the country.

"All the tournament and events of Fiji FA scheduled to be held in December 2019 has been postponed till further notice," said Fiji Football Association acting chief executive officer Amitesh Pal.

"Affiliated Associations who are still having their weekly local league competitions are also urged to please take heed of the advisory from the authorities and also ensure to avoid any competitions/events during the month of December 2019."

A batch of 200,000 measles vaccines have since arrived in Fiji from India, prompting the second phase of the country's measles immunisation campaign.