Six members of the Tongan contingent at Tokyo 2020 are expected to return home from New Zealand on October 20 ©Getty Images

Six members of Tonga's team from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games remain "in good spirits" despite still being stranded in New Zealand because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, and are expected to fly home on October 20.

As reported by Stuff, members of the travelling contingent from Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga - whose National Olympic Committees (NOCs) are all part of the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) - quarantined for 14 days as they returned from the Games to New Zealand.

The athletes were unable to fly directly to or from the Japanese capital, having to transit in New Zealand at the expense of their NOCs.

However, the Tongan team members' planned return to their country after the completion of their quarantine was hampered when New Zealand entered a strict lockdown on August 17, with the repatriation flight from Auckland scheduled for August 25.

Flights were suspended in August and September because of the restrictions imposed, but the six are expected to finally return to Tonga from Auckland on October 20.

Taekwondo coach Paul Sitapa and swimming official Julie Fonua have returned to their homes in Auckland on New Zealand's North Island.

However, Tonga Sports Association and National Olympic Committee (TASANOC) secretary-general Takitoa Taumoepeau, athletics coach Siueni Filimone, men's 100 metres runner Ronald Fotofili and Chef de Mission Amanaki Fakakovikaetau are staying in private accommodation in the town of Kaiapoi on the South Island as they await their return to Tonga.

Women's under-67 kilogram taekwondo athlete Malia Paseka is currently in Auckland and swimming official Vila Day is in Queenstown, with both also set to travel to Tonga on October 20.

Malia Paseka, red, competed in the women's under-67kg taekwondo at Tokyo 2020, and is one of the members of Tonga's team awaiting a flight home ©Getty Images
Malia Paseka, red, competed in the women's under-67kg taekwondo at Tokyo 2020, and is one of the members of Tonga's team awaiting a flight home ©Getty Images

Fakakovikaetau revealed to Stuff  that the team members remained "in good spirits despite the current situation," and some had been able to visit friends on the South Island.

He also said that relatives in Christchurch, Tongan churches and community organisations like Etu Pasifika, who provided food, clothes and phone credit, had been extremely supportive.

Tonga also has a strict border control policy as a COVID-19 countermeasure, and the six members of the Tokyo 2020 contingent will all have to quarantine for 21 days once again when they return home.

It was one of four Pacific Island nations to withdraw from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics because of travel restrictions.

Elsewhere in the region, three Samoan weightlifters were forced to miss the Olympic Games following a Government order that closed the country's international borders, meaning only athletes based overseas could compete at the Games.

New Zealand's restrictions have more recently affected other athletes.

England's netballer Geva Mentor feared she would be stuck in New Zealand until November or December following the closure of the trans-Tasman travel bubble, which prevented her from returning to Australia where she plays for the Melbourne-based Collingwood Magpies.

However, she has secured a place on a private chartered plane, and is set to return to Australia tomorrow.

Her England-based teammates flew home, having originally planned to follow up their series win in New Zealand with three matches in Australia.

Tonga was represented by a total of six athletes at Tokyo 2020, and has appeared at every Summer Olympic Games since Los Angeles 1984.

Its only medal came through Paea Wolfgramm's men's super heavyweight boxing silver at Atlanta 1996.