The 2019 Pacific Games, ticking the boxes in 14 months

The Pacific Games Office’s hosting of 13 Chef de Missions from Samoa and the Pacific this week confirms how close the country is to hosting the region’s premier sporting event.

The attendance of the Chef de Missions and the representatives from 13 Pacific Island countries and territories is a vote of confidence in Samoa’s ability as the host of the 2019 Pacific Games – despite being given only 14 months to get all necessary infrastructure (including sporting facilities) ready for the July 7-20 event – after Tonga threw in the towel citing budgetary constraints. 

 A February 27 to March 1 seminar in Apia enabled the Pacific Games Office’s guests to get updates on sporting services, games village operations, games operations, security, catering and accreditation. And a press conference at the Pacific Games Office yesterday – the last day of the event – concluded the three-day programme.

The Pacific Games Council Executive Director Andrew Minogue expressed confidence in Samoa’s preparations at the press conference yesterday, adding he has visited the country four times since Samoa won the bid.

“They’ve progressed well, and we’re in very good shape with four months to go to host a really really successful games here in July,” he said.

In a show of unity with and for the 2019 host, PNG chef de mission Emma Waiwai – whose country last hosted the Games in 2015 – expressed confidence that Samoa will deliver come July. 

“If I was a new chef or if I probably wasn’t part of an organising committee I probably would panic more than what I am right now. I can see things are in place already, and they will get there. I’m going away (back to PNG) knowing that it’s not an issue, the venues will be ready,” she said, when making comments at the joint Pacific Games Office – Pacific Games Council press conference yesterday.

Mr. Minogue also commended the work of the Pacific Games Office Chief Executive Officer Falefata Hele Matatia’s and his team.

“We can really see that the level of planning has advanced quite considerably even since I was last here in October. I’m not losing any sleep over the organisation of these Games, they’ll be fine.”

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Kudos to Mr. Matatia and his team at the Pacific Games Office for the positive feedback from from the Pacific Games Council and the Chef de Missions. 

A small bit of history was also rewritten this week, with officials indicating that the attendance in Apia of the Chef de Missions and representatives from 13 Pacific Island countries and territories – which represents more than half of the 24 participating Pacific Island nations and territories in the 2019 Games – is a first in the history of the Games.

Therefore, faafetai lava to the following for enabling Samoa to tick some of its boxes as the host: Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee; Australian Olympic Team; Cook Islands Sports and National Olympics Committee; Federated States of Micronesia; Fiji Association of Sport & National Olympic Committee; New Caledonia Sports and National Olympics Committee; NZ Olympic Team; Niue Olympic Wrestling Association; PNG Olympic Committee; Solomon Islands Sports and National Olympics Committee; Tuvalu Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee; Wallis and Futuna Sports and National Olympics Committee; and Tonga Sports Association and National Olympic Committee. 

But in the midst of all the preparations of the necessary infrastructure etc. to make the Games possible, what about the local athletes who are key to getting the local population involved? 

Mr. Minogue touched on this yesterday, when he said there appeared to be no major areas of concern relating to preparations for the Pacific Games, except the need for the host nation to focus on its own athletes to ensure that they were primed to give their best on the big stage.  

“My biggest hope for Samoa is that your own athletes are prepared to win gold medals here at the Games.”

We hear China has offered to train Samoa’s top athletes, who will be leaving the country soon to spend up to four months abroad. This support is on top of Chinese Government funding support of sporting facilities infrastructure. 

The people and the Government of China should be commended, for their support for Samoa, to ensure the 2019 Pacific Games are a success. 

According to the Pacific Games Office, the 2019 edition of the region’s largest sporting event is to promote a “unique, friendly world-class competition and Games, and to develop sport for the benefit of the people, the nations and the territories of the Pacific Community”. 

The slogan for the Samoa Pacific Games is “One in Spirit”. We can only hope for the best for Samoa’s Pacific Games Office, the Pacific Games Council and Samoa’s athletes – who have the chance to shine on the regional stage and in front of their loved ones. 

And we in the Pacific Islands are a resilient community – come rain or sunshine, the show will go on. 

Have a lovely Saturday Samoa and God bless. 

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