The Papua New Guinea Athletes Commission (PNGAC) Chairperson, Karo Lelai is the new Chairperson of the Oceania National Olympic Committee’s (ONOC) Athletes’ Commission after elections at the inaugural meeting of the new ONOC AC for the new Olympiad on Saturday, 26 August at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi, Fiji.

Lelai who is also a Board Member of the PNG Olympic Committee and FIBA Executive Board Member takes over from New Zealand Olympian and long-time Chair, Barbara Kendall who held the position for over a decade. Lelai was elected Chairperson with Inoke Niubalavu (Fiji) elected as Deputy Chair.

The ONCO AC for the current term comprises of:

  1. Edith Nicholas (Cook Islands)
  2. Inoke Niubalavu (Fiji)
  3. Jennifer Anson (Palau)
  4. Karo Lelai (PNG)
  5. Anolyn Lulu (Vanuatu)
  6. Sarah Walker (IOC, New Zealand)
  7. Ryan Pini (Athletes’ Rep on the Pacific Games Council, PNG)
  8. Kenneth Wallace (Australia)
  9. James Tomkins (IOC, Australia)

Karo’s appointment as the ONOC AC Chairperson now sees all PNGOC Female Board members hold positions on international bodies.

They include:

  • Mel Donald – ONOC Executive Member 
  • Tamzin Wardley – Pacific Games Council, Vice President – Audit & Finance
  • Auvita Rapilla – IOC Member, ONOC Executive Member and ANOC Executive Member
  • Karo Lelai – ONOC AC Chairperson, ANOC AC member and FIBA Oceania Executive Member
  • Emma Waiwai – ONOC Women & Sport Committee Member

Karo attributed her appointment as a great stepping stone for Team PNG and Oceania athletes and added that the support and faith shown by the ONOC AC to be elected was unanimously and unopposed as the Chairperson shows the standards PNG Olympic Committee has set on and off the sporting arena since the 2015 Pacific Games.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to lead and I look forward to working with my colleagues in representing the interests of all Oceania Athletes and continuing the good work of the previous ONOC AC under the leadership of Barbara Kendall.” said Lelai.

Karo’s appointment also comes with the announcement that fellow PNGAC and ONOC AC Member, Ryan Pini being appointed as FINA Athletes Commission Member. FINA is the world governing body for the sport of swimming.

PNGOC President, Sir John Dawanincura was excited about the appointment and was quick to congratulate Karo’s appointment on the ONOC AC as well as Ryan’s appointment on FINA’s Athlete Commission.

“This is excellent news not only for PNG but for the Oceania region as a whole. Karo brings with her a wealth of sporting experience as well as experience in her legal profession and we are excited about her appointment. On behalf of the Board and the Members of PNG Olympic Committee, I convey my congratulations to Karo and Ryan for continuing to be the voice of our athletes in PNG, the Oceania region and beyond.” said Sir John.

Karo’s appointment will run through to 2021.