Minister defends Games decision
The man driving Samoa’s preparations for the Pacific Games has defended the decision to award a $4 million accommodation contract to the Methodist Church.
The Chairman of the Pacific Games Committee and the Minister of Education Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, has also rejected concerns expressed by Tahiti over the accommodations arrangement.
Speaking to the Weekend Observer, the Minister said Tahiti should think twice before questioning Samoa’s preparations.
“They shouldn’t talk when accommodation in Tahiti back in 1995 was crap,” Loau said. “What we offer, I’m speaking as a former athlete, is top notch when it comes to accommodation and only athletes would know what I am talking about.”
As for the decision to award a $4 million accommodation contract to the Methodist Church, Loau said there was nothing sinister about it.
“This conclusion was not made by the Chief Executive Officer, Falefata (Hele Matatia) alone, and therefore the concerns over the conflict of interest, because his father is a Church Minister with the Methodist church is preposterous.
“The Methodist compound is suitable for our purposes and it can accommodate more than 4,000 athletes.”
Acknowledging the concerns in relation to the athletes' accommodation, the Minister said the committee stands by its decision.
“As I said before, the athletes attending the 2019 Pacific Games will stay at the Methodist compound in Faleula, due to fewer hotels signing up to the Government’s accommodation plans.
“However, Pacific Games officials will stay at hotels as planned by Samoa’s Pacific Games Committee and our contract with them amounts to a little over $1 million tala,” he added.
Loau emphasised that halls, school buildings and properties owned by the other church denominations were also considered, but the Committee opted for Faleula due to its convenient location.
“We considered the EFKS compound in Malua, but due to its location that was out of the question.
“We also looked at the Catholic compound, again location wise it will be costly with fuel and again inconvenience as it’s far from where the games will be held. It is simple, we used our common sense,” he said.
“Look, we considered other accommodation such as schools, but then we will have to renovate only to take it apart when the games are concluded. Again we utilized our common sense,” he said.
Getting back to Tahiti, Loau said it is up to them if to decide if they want to attend the Pacific Games.
“That is their prerogative, but we are doing everything we can to the best of our ability to provide top notch accommodations for our athletes,” he said.
“I am telling you, the accommodation in Tahiti was horrible, even their food was awful.
“To say that our accommodations are not up to par, well they can stay elsewhere if they prefer, but we will not change our venue. Take it or leave it… it is their choice.”
Last month, a delegation from Tahiti expressed fears the Faleula Games Village doesn't have the capacity to house all athletes.