Tonga’s public holiday to celebrate the achievements of the Tonga Invitational XIII rugby league team will go ahead today despite recent efforts to minimise the current measles outbreak.

The Cabinet declared 15 November as a Special Public Holiday following the team’s historic wins over Great Britain and Australia but, a day before the official celebrations were to commence, all government primary schools and kindergartens in Tonga were closed until 25 November.

Deputy CEO for Tonga’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, Onetoto Anisi, who is resposible for sport and recreation divisions in the Kingdom, said this has not affected the programme and plans to celebrate the teams success will go ahead.

The Tongan players began arriving in the country earlier this week and Anisi said the country is ready to celebrate a remarkable and historic achievement and the community are excited to be part of it.

“We are looking at 21 cars to be paraded with the players and the officials right up here to the stadium, Teufaiva Park [Teufaiva Sport Stadium],” he said.

“This programme will be remarkable in the history of this country and the people of Tonga will be proud of their rememberance in the future.”

King Tupou VI opened the first official welcome for the team, hosting a reception at his residence on Thursday.

A thanksgiving service is expected to commence early this morning, for prayer and thanks, before the national holiday and parade gets underway at the domestic wharf at Faua.

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