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Samoa keen to host the 2019 Pacific Games after Tonga pulls out


Samoa’s Womens Cricket Team that won Gold in the last Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea 2015

Staff Reporters

APIA, SAMOA – THURSDAY 17 MAY 2017: The Minister of Sports, Loau Keneti Sio has expressed the Samoan government’s interest to host the Pacific Games in 2019 should Tonga pull out.

The Minister told the media last night that his Ministry was following developments in Tonga amidst reports that the Government there has decided to pull out from hosting the event.

Tonga’s Prime Minister said his government decided last Friday to pull out on the basis of a 2013 World Bank report about the economic impact of the event.

However, the Pacific Games Council was only informed officially of the decision by Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva yesterday, five days after the move was approved by cabinet.

The Games Council President Vidhya Lakhan, said the government’s withdrawal from hosting is “an extremely disappointing and confusing decision which robs Tonga’s youth and future generations of the golden opportunity to receive badly needed sport and recreation facilities.”

He said “Tonga’s citizens and businesses will also miss out on the many vital employment and commercial opportunities associated with the heightened economic activity around the Games.”

The Pacific Games Council said it was not consulted in the decision and no attempt was made to seek their assistance to address the Government’s financial concerns over staging the Games.

“We have a contract that we signed in 2012, when our General Assembly awarded Tonga the Games and there are termination and suspension clauses in the contract,” said Council CEO Andrew Minogue.

“So there are procedures that can be activated if one of the parties wishes to not go ahead and there’s a process that needs to be followed and of course in this case it has not been followed.

“So that’s why I think it’s come in a shock and it’s why we’ve said in our statement we haven’t been consulted in the decision,” Minogue said.

He said the Pacific Games Council’s Executive Board will hold an emergency meeting next weekend to discuss the way forward.

Minister Loau Keneti Sio says Samoa has the sports facilities in place and last year hosted the Commonwealth Youth Games.

Samoa last hosted the Pacific Games in 2007, followed by New Caledonia in 2011 and Papua New Guinea in 2015.