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Tonga Olympic Committee calls for Pacific Games rethink

TASANOC's Takitoa Taumoepeau. Photo: TASANOC Facebook

NUKU’ALOFA-May 25: 10:28am(RNZI): The Tongan Olympic Committee says the government’s decision to withdraw its support for hosting the 2019 Pacific Games doesn’t add up.

More than 40 delegates, representing 17 national sporting federations, discussed the matter at a Special General Meeting earlier this week.

The Secretary General of TASANOC, Takitoa Taumoepeau, said they have analysed the figures and the government’s argument that they pulled their support for financial reasons made no sense.

“He (the Prime Minister) is saying that the reason is financial yet he’s continuing with his golf project – the new golf project – which costs even more than what we have been looking at the contribution from government,” he said.

“I think in the next couple of weeks or so, plus the returning of the Prime Minister, we just want to sit down and discuss honestly what’s really happening.

“Because early in the month he was confirming that the games was on and preparation was on track and then a few days later they came up with a different decision.”

Takitoa said Tonga has received a lot of support from donor countries, including New Zealand, Australia and China, and the financial commitment required from government to host the games is very little.

“We did table it out and present it to the audit and government finance meeting earlier in the month our full budget, what it would cost to host the games here,” he said.

“Interestingly the contribution from government is not that much…even if it comes to reduce the number of sports programs because at the moment we can entertain or host ten sports programs that are conducted indoor.

“We already have the indoor gym, the hall and everything here so it is a minor renovation and upgrading so, if they’re saying it’s financial, it doesn’t really add up when you look at all these things we need to do.”

Takitoa said members still wanted Tonga to host the 2019 Games and agreed unanimously to ask the government to hold further discussions with the Olympic Committee and Pacific Games Council about finding a resolution.

He said the Acting Chair of TASANOC, Lord Vaea, and the Games Organising Committee CEO, Lord Sevele, will represent Tonga at an emergency meeting of the Pacific Games Council’s Executive Board on the Gold Coast this weekend.

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