PGC urges Tonga to build Pa­cific Games fa­cil­i­ties

Fiji Sun - - Sport - Leonec@fi­

The Pa­cific Games Coun­cil is ea­ger to see a Mas­ter Plan for the 2019 Pa­cific Games in Tonga turn into re­al­ity. To make this hap­pen the Ton­gan Gov­ern­ment should swiftly se­cure con­tracts for the de­sign and the construction of sporting fa­cil­i­ties and venues re­quired, the Pres­i­dent of the Pa­cific Games Coun­cil, Vid­hya Lakhan said at a Press Con­fer­ence in Nuku’alofa on Fri­day, 22 April.

His cur­rent visit fol­lows on from their dis­ap­point­ment over the state of Tonga’s prepa­ra­tions to host the 2019 games when they vis­ited Nuku’alofa in Fe­bru­ary 2015, and dis­cov­ered that the Mas­ter Plan that they had agreed to was barely be­ing ac­ti­vated.

How­ever, on the cur­rent visit Vid­hya said “the bulk of the Mas­ter Plan has been achieved. There are some changes, and we are happy and have given our bless­ing to the changes.” They sup­ported an ad­di­tion to the Mas­ter Plan for an ad­di­tional play­ing field and a warm-up fa­cil­ity at the Po­lice Train­ing Com­pound, but he rec­om­mended that the orig­i­nal Mas­ter Plan for Ten­nis and Lawn Bowls fa­cil­i­ties at the nearby Tonga High School be re­tained. He also ex­pressed his ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the ef­fort by the Ton­gan gov­ern­ment, in seek­ing as­sis­tance from donor coun­tries. This in­cluded: China to de­velop sports fa­cil­i­ties at the Tonga High School grounds. Pa­pua New Guinea to re­de­velop Ta­u­faiva Sta­dium. Aus­tralia and New Zealand fund­ing of venues devel­op­ment. Ja­panese gov­ern­ment fund­ing the pro­vi­sion of sports equip­ment.

Dif­fi­cult is­sues An­drew Minogue, the Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Pa­cific Games Coun­cil who ac­com­pa­nied Vid­hya also elab­o­rated on some of the dif­fi­cult is­sues which re­quired amend­ment to the Mas­ter Plan. One was be­cause Nuku’alofa is a small town com­par­ing with the Mas­ter Plan that they had for Noumea, and the Port Moresby Games, which are big­ger cities than Nuku’alofa.

He said that the so­lu­tion for Tonga, is that the 2019 Pa­cific Games will be a “Walk­ing Games”. Ath­letes will be housed in schools around Nuku’alofa, so that they could be able to walk to venues, at Te­u­faiva Sta­dium, Tonga High School and Queen Salote Memo­rial Hall. Tonga is also to de­cide what are the 26 sports it would be able to cater for in 2019. There were 30 sports in Port Moresby; a slow de­cline from 34 in Suva, and 33 in Apia. An­drew ex­plained that 14 sports must be in the games, but there are sports that it would be a waste of money to build fa­cil­i­ties, if only one or two coun­tries would send teams to com­pete. While there may be a re­duc­tion in the num­ber of sports that ath­letes could com­pete in at the Pa­cific Games, but com­pe­ti­tion is be­com­ing more in­tense, since Aus­tralia and New Zealand sent teams to Pa­cific Games for the first time last year in Port Moresby. Both coun­tries will also be send­ing ath­letes to com­pete in more sporting events in the Tonga games. The Pa­cific Games also en­able ath- letes to qual­ify and be able to com­pete in in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions.

Vid­hya pointed out that 7-a-side rugby which qual­i­fies in the Port Moresby games, en­abled them to com­pete in the Hong Kong 7-a-side. The 2019 Pa­cific Games – “Our Peo­ple, Our Games”, could also be known as our Walk­ing Games. Lord Sevele, the chair­man of the 2019 Pa­cific Games Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee, pointed out that ex­cept for the ‘Atele Sta­dium and the nearby golf course, the other main sporting venues will be Te­u­faiva Sta­dium, and Tonga High School will be within walk­ing dis­tance. With re­gards to fi­nanc­ing the game, Lord Sevele stressed that Ton­gans should have na­tional pride and fund the construction of some of the fa­cil­i­ties. He said that they would need $25 mil­lion to up­grade Te­u­faiva, and half a mil­lion to up­grade the 9-holes golf course at ‘Atele, and about $200,000 to up­grade the Queen Salote Memo­rial Hall where weight lift­ing, Tai-kwando and body-build­ing com­pe­ti­tions will be held. Tonga through the Tonga Am­a­teur Sports As­so­ci­a­tion and Na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee TASANOC ap­plied in April 2012 to host the 2019 Pa­cific Games, and the Pa­cific Games Coun­cil gave TASANOC the right to host and or­gan­ise the 2019 Pa­cific Games. For TASANOC to plan, or­gan­ise and de­liver the games in 2019 it formed the Au­dit and Gover­nance Au­thor­ity, which is chaired by the Prime Min­is­ter, Hon. ‘ Ak­il­isi Po­hiva, and the Pa­cific Games Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee, chaired by Lord Sevele. Vid­hya was in Nuku’alofa last week to at­tend a meet­ing of the 2019 Pa­cific Games Au­dit and Gover­nance Au­thor­ity. Its mem­bers in­clude four gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives, in­clud­ing the chair­man, three TASANOC rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the pres­i­dent of the Pa­cific Games Coun­cil. There is op­ti­mism that Tonga will be able to host the 2019 games, even though two and a half years be­fore the games are due to start in July 2019, the construction of venues and fa­cil­i­ties has yet to start. Matangi Tonga

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