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Pacific Games Council to sue Tongan government

Pacific Games Council President Vidhya Lakhan led the Council meeting in Vanuatu on Sunday, where it was unanimously agreed that the Council sues the Tongan government for withdrawing from hosting the 2019 Pacific Games. Photo: VAN2017

PORT VILA, Vanuatu – December 14: 4pm (WIRES/Pacnews): Legal action against Tonga for withdrawing from hosting the 2019 Pacific Games has been given full support by members of the Pacific Games Council (PGC) General Assembly at a meeting held on Sunday, December 10, in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

TASANOC in a statement, confirmed the legal decision was made by the full membership of the Council, including 22 countries and territories of the Pacific.

The PGC has instructed its legal counsel in Tonga, William Edwards Jnr, to take intial steps to seek damages, which may amount to millions.

Tonga pulled out as hosts in June this year citing financial reasons, claiming the Games was not a priority for the country.

PGC warned in June that under the hosting contract, Tonga would underwrite the cost of the 2019 Games even if it is held in another country.

The suspension of Tahiti’s Pacific Games Association PGC membership from the Games because of its interfering government is raising concerns with the Tonga Association of Sport and National Olympic Committee (TASANOC) that Tonga may end up in the same boat.

TASANOC said that as a PGA member it is “very concerned that these developments could result in our membership being suspended or even expelled from the Pacific Games Council”.

It said this action would deprive Tongan athletes from competing at future Pacific Games and other related multi-sports events or games.

Meanwhile, the PGC is looking at allowing more teams from other nations and territories outside the region to take part in the Pacific Games.

Some smaller countries fear however, that this means Australia and New Zealand will go on to dominate the medals given both countries competed for the first time at the Pacific Games in 2015 in Port Moresby, in taekwondo, sailing, rugby sevens and weightlifting. And they have been granted additional sports at the 2019 Games.

But, PGC Executive Director Andrew Minogue said the PGC is thinking of “other islands and territories around the Pacific that might wish to be involved in the Games” not Australia and New Zealand.

“I think a good example if you go to the World Sprints of Va’a, you have teams from Easter Islands, you have teams from Hawaii, so there are some sports that’s contested in our region that have other islands taking part and we want to see what the members think of having an inclusive approach,” he said.

The move could lead to bigger countries being invited to host the Pacific Games in order to avoid the situation the PGC found itself in this year with Tonga’s withdrawal as host.

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