Fiji rewards Olympic sevens teams with 'million-dollar package'
Fiji rugby sevens team coach Ben Ryan (C) waves from the truck as the team ride through the cheering crowd in Suva upon their arrival from Brazil on August 22, 2016. Tens of thousands of Fijians cheered and many openly wept as they braved heavy rain to attend a victory ceremony in the capital Suva with celebrations rolling through a second day since the team returned home. (Feroz Khalil / AFP)
(AFP) - Fiji's Olympic medallist rugby sevens teams will be rewarded with a "million-dollar package", the nation's prime minister announced Friday as he hailed them as heroes.
All the men's gold medallists will recieve $33,000 (US$15,915) while the bronze-winning women will recieve $11,000 (US$5,305)each as part of the package, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said.
"They represent the heart and strength and high aspirations of an entire nation," Bainimarama said in a video posted to Facebook.
"And our champions deserve everything we can afford to offer."
"Today, I'm announcing a million-dollar package to give back to the Olympic heroes who have given us so much -- and to reward them for all their sacrifice and hard work."
The men's team defeated New Zealand last week to win gold in Tokyo while the Fijiana beat Britain to take bronze.
The package will also include the purchase of land and the partial funding of a house for the mens' captain, and dual-gold medallist, Jerry Tuwai.
The nation of 890,000 people scattered around more than 330 Pacific islands now boasts three Olympic medals, including the men's victory at the 2016 Rio Games.
"This isn't like after Rio in 2016. This time, we don't have one medal, we have two -- which means twice the pride and double the happiness," the leader said.
He also used the video to urge citizens to get vaccinated as the country battles swelling numbers of Covid-19 cases amid an outbreak of the Delta variant.
"The pandemic has pitted us in a fight to save lives. If we heed the lessons of our Olympians, we can win it."
Fiji reported nearly 1,000 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday and has recorded almost 35,000 cases and 283 deaths linked to the virus since the pandemic began.
© Agence France-Presse