Tonga will not host 2019 Pacific Games; PM cites World Bank advice on costs

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Tongan athletes who represent Tonga in international sport must reach a certain standard before the government helps them financially, Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva has announced. File Photo

Tonga will not host 2019 Pacific games.

A spokesman for the Tongan Cabinet told Kaniva News this morning Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva had decided to save the country from a costly mistake.

The spokesman said Hon. Pohiva was made aware last week of a World Bank report which said the kingdom would face economic difficulties if it hosted the Games.

The government’s decision comes just weeks after the Chinese government agreed to pay more than TP$57 million for new sporting facilities.

The spokesman said Tonga would still continue renovations and maintenance of sporting facilities to prepare its athletes for the Games.

This included the Teufaiva national stadium, Tonga High School complex, Atele Indoor Stadium and the golf course.

The spokesperson said Cabinet considered the fact that Tonga had to follow the requirements for the upkeep of the sporting facilities after the Games.

“It is required the government must have an annual budget of 12 percent of the total cost of the expenses used for the construction of the facilities for their maintenance and repairs every year after 2019,” the spokesperson said.

“We cannot afford that large amount of money and we do not have the number of people and sport events to use these facilities from time to time to generate funds for the upkeep.”

Foreign funding

It is not clear what effect the government’s decision will have on the tens of millions of dollars of foreign funding earmarked for the games.

The Chinese government has agreed to pay for a $US24.8 million (TP$57,576,000/NZ$36,360,000) sports complex at Tonga High School for the 2019 Games.

The sports complex preparatory works are scheduled for August 2017, with construction expected to start in October 2017 and be completed by May 2019.

Other works confirmed for the Games include the upgrade of the Teufaiva Stadium, funded through a development initiative by the New Zealand Government.

Papua New Guinea had also offered financial support for the games.

Bitter

The government’s decision follows weeks of often bitter wrangling between the Prime Minister, Games organising committee CEO Lord Sevele and the Pacific Games Council.

Last year the Prime Minister sent a letter to Council president Vidya Lakhan saying Tonga was prepared to withdraw all funding and support for the games if an impasse involving him and Lord Sevele was not resolved.

In October last year the Council said it expected Tonga to remain as host of the 2019 Pacific Games after Hon. Pohiva told parliament he doubted Tonga would be ready in time.

The main points

  • Tonga will not host next year’s Pacific games.
  • A spokesman for the Tongan Cabinet told Kaniva News this morning Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva had decided to save the country from a costly mistake.
  • The spokesman said Hon. Pohiva was made aware last week of a World Bank report which said the kingdom would face economic difficulties if it hosted the Games.
  • The decision comes just weeks after the Chinese government agreed to pay for a $US24.8 million sports complex at Tonga High School.

For more information

China to fund sports complex in Tonga for Pacific Games

Pacific Games Council expects Tonga to remain as host

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