“Experienced” host wanted for 2019 Pacific Games

President Vidhya Lakhan and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Minogue (Photo: Nuku'alofa Times)

SUVA, Fiji-July 5: 9:12am(RNZI): The Pacific Games Council says it wants an experienced hand to replace Tonga as host of the 2019 Pacific Games.

The Council confirmed on Monday it would formally terminate the host agreement with Tonga, after the deadline passed for the government to recommit its support.

It has also begun legal proceedings against the government, following its decision to unilaterally withdraw from hosting the event.

The same six countries and territories have held every edition of the Games, since they started in 1963.

Tonga was to be the seventh, with Solomon Islands awarded hosting rights for 2023, but Council CEO Andrew Minogue said recent events may force members to rethink their approach.

“And I think a lot of our members that’s the reason they voted so emphatically for Tonga to host the Games when they won the bid was to bring the event to more countries, and we’ve been convinced and still are convinced that Tonga were capable of doing it,” he said.

“So it is going to, I think, put some pressure on all of us to have a bit of a rethink as to how we go about awarding the Games, what sort of countries are capable of hosting them (and) which aren’t.

“But there’s no doubt it’s a sad situation for all of those countries – not just Tonga – that had aspirations for doing a Pacific Games. It puts more pressure on them into the future so that we don’t have a repeat of what’s happened here.

“Although, I think whatever the Government might say about it’s financial situation in Tonga, I think some personalities and some political issues have been as influential as anything in terms of the final decision.”

Andrew Minogue said they hope to have a new host for the 2019 Pacific Games confirmed by the end of August.

“We’re fairly confident that if these Games are being requested by a country that already has the facilities then two years is adequate time to be able to put a committee in place and get working on the plans for the event,” he said.

“This would have been a disaster for us if it had happened a year from now with a year to go but I think two years is sufficient time for an experienced host country to step forward and deliver the Games quite successfully.”

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