The Minister of Education Sports and Culture Loau Keneti Sio has questioned a U.S.$450,000 fee that Samoa has to pay as host of the 2019 Pacific Games, describing it as “ridiculously overcharged”.
Loau, who is also chair of the Pacific Games due to his sports portfolio in Cabinet, said the U.S.$450,000 ($1.08 million) fee was too high and Samoa has had limited time to prepare as host of the regional sporting event.
“The $1.08 million is relatively a significant amount and I have demanded that they lay out what we are getting out of this million tala deal.
“It is understood the host fee must be paid by the hosting country. However, those countries are given eight years to prepare. Now keep in mind the bid is conducted yet Samoa has stepped up to take on the Games with only 12 months to prepare,” he said.
The Minister also confirmed that the Government made the first payment of $280,000 for host fees in January this year with the second payment due last month. But further payments have now been put on hold, pending feedback from the Games Council.
“I have put a hold on the second payment as we negotiate the host fees. We are asking the Council to outline what we are getting in return from the $1.08 million tala we’re paying for,” he said.
The total cost for Samoa, as the host of the 2019 Pacific Games, is $50 million according to Loau.
“More reason why we cannot afford to pay the host fee, given the time constraints allocated for us to prepare our facilities.
“We have $20 million from the Government and we anticipate to get another $10 million from our sponsors but the rest we will have to wait on God to lend us the $30 million. And that is where we now stand, we will not pay another penny unless this $1.08 million is justified and again the Council should reconsider this fee.
“Also if we were given eight years like every other country, then the fee is justified but in our case which is only 12 months, now that is just ridiculous,” he added.
Samoa put in a bid for the Pacific Games in May last year after Tonga pulled out as the host, citing the lack of financial resources and capacity. Tonga’s Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva said although the decision was difficult, a report from the World Bank on the economic impact of the sporting event on the country warned that it was too big a risk for Tonga to take.
Pacific Games C.E.O. Falefata Hele Matatia told Samoa Observer in a recent interview that preparations to host the regional sporting event were 65-70 per cent complete and the Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee have begun work to select teams for the Pacific Games.
A Chinese technical team is also assisting with preparations and sports equipment required for the various events, on top of providing transport for athletes and sports personnel.