Sports Minister breaks silence over Games row, tells RNZI loss “would be a blow”

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Sports Minister breaks silence over Games row, tells RNZI loss “would be a blow”

Tongan Sports Minister Fe’ao Vakata has broken his silence over the row  between the Tongan government and the Pacific Games Council.

Hon. Vakata remained tight lipped about a letter from Tongan Cabinet Chief Secretary Palenitina Langa’oi to the Pacific Games Council when Kaniva News interviewed him on Wednesday.

In that letter Dr Langa’oi said she would welcome losing the Games if the council continued to endorse Lord Sevele-‘o-Vailahi as chair of the kingdom’s Games Organising Committee. Lord Sevele was dismissed from his post as head of the Tongan Games organising committee last Friday.

Hon. Vakata told Radio New Zealand International this afternoon that losing the Games would be a blow for the kingdom.

The letter said the government would stand by its decision to dismiss Lord Sevele.

“It will be a big deal and unfortunately if that is the Chief Secretary’s letter, she doesn’t speak for parliament,” Hon. Vakata told the New Zealand broadcaster.

“It will be big, big issue for Tonga and for myself personally if the hosting of the SPG (Pacific Games) 2019 is taken away from Tonga.”

As reported earlier by Kaniva News, the Tongan government said that as a sovereign state Tonga would not submit to the Pacific Games Committee when it came to deciding who to employ to facilitate the successful implementation of the Games.

Yesterday RNZI reported Pacific Games Council Chairman Vidhya Lakhan said the issue was not about sovereignty.

“Tonga might be sovereign, but we would expect sovereign states to honour and deliver on contractual agreements that the sovereign state might enter into with other parties,” Lakhan said.

In another development, Radio Australia has reported that Parliamentarian Lord Fusitu’a has claimed Parliament could overturn Lord Sevele’s dismissal.

Pacific Beat reported Lord Fusitu’a as saying Tonga’s reputation was endangered by the row.

Meanwhile, even as Lord Sevele was telling Radio and TV Tonga that he was still chair of the kingdom’s Games Organising Committee, Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva appeared to be optimistic about the long term effects of the dispute.

He told the Tongan Broadcasting Commission yesterday that losing the games would not jeapordise the kingdom’s involvement in international sporting events.

“If Tonga loses its opportunity to host the games – this does not mean that our participation in local, regional and international events is jeopardized,” the Prime Minister told Radio and TV Tonga.

“No, we can still continue. But if we manage to resolve the current issues of disagreement and host the games it will be an opportunity for many in the long run.”

The main points

  • Tongan Sports Minister Fe’ao Vakata has broken his silence over the row  between the Tongan government and the Pacific Games Council.
  • Hon. Vakata told Radio New Zealand International this afternoon that losing the Games would be a blow for the kingdom.
  • The row erupted over a letter from Tongan Cabinet Chief Secretary Palenitina Langa’oi to the Pacific Games Council saying he would welcome losing the Games if the council continued to endorse Lord Sevele-‘o-Vailahi as chair of the kingdom’s Games Organising Committee.
  • Lord Sevele was dismissed from his post as head of the Tongan Games organising committee last Friday.

For more information

Government would welcome losing 2019 Games if PGC supports Lord Sevele (Kaniva News)

Tongan Sports Minister says country wants Games (RNZI)

Pac Games council tells Tonga to honour contract (RNZI)

Government intervention in Pacific Games Council concerning: Tongan MP (Radio Australia)

Tonga can continue without the Pacific Games, says the Prime Minister (TBC)

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  1. Ko e ʻīsiu lahi ʻaupito ʻaupito ʻeni tautefito kiate au pe kapau ʻe toʻo ʻa e Sipoti Pasifikí mei Tonga, ko e meʻa ia ʻa e Minisitā Sipoti ʻa Tongá.

    Ne fakaʻekeʻeke ;e he Kanivá ʻa e Minisitaá ni he Pulelulú ke fai ange haʻane meʻa ki he tohi ʻa e Sekelitali Pulé ki he Kosilio Sipoti Pasifiki ʻo fakahā ka ʻikai ke nau poupou mai ki hono tuku ʻo Looti Sevele ki tuʻá ʻe fiemālie pe ʻa Tonga ia ka toʻo ai leva ʻa e sipoti ia.

    Ka ne pehē ʻe Vakatā ne toki tau hake ki Tonga mei Kuamu pea ʻoku teʻeki ke ne vakai ki he ngaahi meʻa ʻoku hokó kae lava haʻane tali lelei. Taimi tatau ne ne pehē ne kamata ʻi he Tuʻapulelulú ia ʻa e teuteu ki he sipotí ʻa ia ko e fakamalohisino ʻa e tamaikí.