Future of 2019 Games is in the hands of the people, says Council CEO

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Tonga PM 'Akilisi Pohiva (c) meeting with the Pacific Games Council Executive Board in 2015. Photo: Supplied / Pacific Games Council

The future of the 2019 Pacific Games is in the hands of the Tongan people, Pacific Games Council CEO Andrew Minogue said this afternoon.

“If they want the Games then they have to petition the government or whatever it is they have to do to try and reverse the decision,” Minogue told Radio New Zealand.

The Pacific Games Council has given Tonga a month to decide whether it will change its mind about hosting the 2019 Pacific Games.

Minogue said the PGC would be open to a change of heart by the Tongan government,  but if there was no progress then it would abide by the rules and begin legal proceedings.

Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva cited financial concerns for not hosting the Games, but Minogue said money for the event had already been allocated in the Tongan’s budget.

“It’s disappointing to know that the funds are there, but the government doesn’t want to allocate them to the Games as per their responsibilities under the contract,” he said.

Minogue accused the Tongan government of not following the rules.

“Sports people and sports organisations always like to follow the rules and we have rules under our contract, that we have with the Tongan government and TASANOC for these Games, around how the contract is to be terminated in the event that it has to be,” he said.

“(The Tonga) government hasn’t respected that process but we want to because it’s our event and it’s our product and we want to follow the rules.”

PGC president Vidhya Lakhan said the Tongan government made no attempt to ask the Games Council’s assistance in sorting out its financial concerns.

He described the decision as “disappointing and confusing.”

“This robs Tonga’s youth and its future generations of the golden opportunity to receive badly needed sport and recreational facilities as well as the chance to develop their human resources capacity through being involved in a nation-building event.

“Tonga’s citizens and businesses will also now miss out on the many vital employment and commercial opportunities associated with the heightened economic activity around the Games.”

While last month’s announcement came as a shock, it was not the first time Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva had expressed doubts about hosting the Games.

Last October he told Radio Tonga the government had other priorities and said the decision to host the Games had been made by the previous administration.

He said it would be better if Samoa or Fiji hosted the Games because they could afford it.

According to the Guam Daily News, the Micronesian nation has joined Samoa as a possible site for at least some of the 2019 Games.

The main points

  • The future of the 2019 Pacific Games is in the hands of the Tongan people, Pacific Games Council CEP Andrew Minogue said this afternoon.
  • “If they want the Games then they have to petition the government or whatever it is they have to do to try and reverse the decision,” Minogue told Radio New Zealand.
  • The Pacific Games Council has given Tonga a month to decide whether it will change its mind about hosting the 2019 Pacific Games.
  • Minogue said the PGC would be open to a change of heart by the Tongan government, but if there was no progress then it would begin legal proceedings.

For more information

Pacific Games Council threatens legal action against Tonga (RNZ)

Pacific Games Council joins Tongan government in withdrawal from 2019 Games (Guam Daily News)

Tonga’s PM says it’s better for Fiji or Samoa to host 2019 Pacific Games

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