The National, Tuesday, May 17, 2011
AN apologetic PNG Paralympic Committee (PNGPC) president Bernard Chan in a press release yesterday expressed his disappointment at an incident involving a paralympic athlete in Darwin during the Arafura Games last week.
Chan said he was shocked to hear that paralympic athlete Edward Ilau, 24, had been charged by Darwin police for indecent assault on a 10-year-old at the closing ceremony on Saturday.
“I have been mostly distressed and disappointed that a member of the PNG Paralympic team has been charged for indecent assault during the Arafura Games in Darwin,” Chan stated.
“The athlete in question has cerebral palsy and is a first time participant in any international event.
“This incident has disappointed me greatly, as it has shamed other members of the PNG Paralympic team, PNG Paralympic Committee, its affiliated members, its valued sponsors, its volunteers, its supporters, and people with disabilities in this country as well as PNG athletes and officials who participated in the Arafura Games.
“PNGPC would like to apologise to the government of PNG and its people, to our valued corporate sponsors, our athletes and officials, the Arafura Games organising committee and most importantly, the victim and her family, the people of Darwin and Australia.”
According to Chan, Ilau would be deported back to PNG after serving a brief sentence and not one month as stated in media reports.
He said PNGPC strongly condemned the Ilau’s behaviour and had officially terminated him from the committee and the sport.
He added that since the Beijing Paralympics (2008), PNGPC had been held in high regard by the government, the sporting community, business community and the public.
However, the Darwin incident had damaged the reputation of the PNGPC.
“PNGPC is very serious in developing and raising the level of sports for people with disabilities in this country.”
Chan maintained that PNGPC observed a high level of athlete management and preparation.
“PNGPC has a very stringent selection process where all athletes travelling overseas must attend a training camp where a final selection is done before they travel abroad.”
“In this case, our team was in training at the NSI for almost two months where they were monitored and selected depending on their performances and attitude.
“Athletes and officials also signed a MOA which included their code of conduct while abroad,” Chan said. “It is my hope that we can put this incident behind us so that PNGPC can continue its sports programmes with its stakeholders to create sporting opportunities for people with disabilities in our communities across PNG,” Chan said.
The PNG Paralympic team at the Arafura Games performed well winning a total of 13 gold medals – six Arafura Games medals and seven Oceania Paralympic Championships medals.
Chan, however, did not say whether further action (criminal or disciplinary) would be taken against Ilau once he returned to PNG.
In related news, it has been revealed that a similar incident involving Ilau – who is now a possible repeat offender – occurred earlier this year at the NSI while he was preparing for Darwin.
Sources connected with PNG Sports said that no action was taken at the time despite complaints raised by a female athlete.
Paralympic athletes at the NSI were under the supervision of PNGPC vice-president Ben Theodore at the time.