Pacific Games preparations on track
Preparations for sports facilities for the upcoming Pacific Games are well underway and on track.
With less than three months until game day, construction workers are working round-the-clock to ensure the deadline is met.
In an interview with the Minister of Education Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, he said the target is to complete all facilities by June to allow local athletes to familiarise themselves with the venues.
So far, the construction works are on time as scheduled, he said.
At the moment, a new multipurpose gym is under construction at Tuanaimato where the football field was.
The boxing venue, which will be taken to the bigger island of Savai’i, needs some final changes at the Don Bosco hall before it is ready.
According to Loau, it was clear from the recent event hosted at the hall last week that the venue has the capacity to host the event, but needs fans to keep the atmosphere cool.
He added the International Boxing Association – otherwise known as A.I.B.A. – was in the country to inspect the facility and were very happy with it.
As for track events, works at the Apia Park are in progress and will be ready soon when local athletes in China return.
In terms of funding for facilities, Loau said the cost is shared by the Governments of Samoa and China.
“The facilities that were funded by China in previous years like the aquarium, tennis court and Apia Park are being renovated under funding by China,” said the Minister.
“As for other facilities like the Gym 1 and 2 at Tuanaimato and others it is funded by us from the budget allocated for the Pacific Games preparations.”
Loau pointed out $11 million was approved from the budget and additional fund is expected in the upcoming financial year budget.
He added the fund is still not enough, but the Government is working with what is available.
“The cost of preparations for facilities and preparations is an estimate of $45 million but at the moment we are working on saving costs.
“These things are not cheap but we see it as a great exposure for our us especially our tourism industry and small businesses.
“So we are hoping to secure more funding in the next budget to continue on with work preparations.”
Asked about the sponsors pledge to the Pacific Games, Loau said an estimate of about $9 million has been collected from sponsorship.
He explained if the $11 million from the budget runs out, the pool of money from sponsorship will eventually be used to make payments.
Compared to the previous Pacific Games that was hosted by Samoa in 2007, not many companies and individuals sponsored the event.
He applauded the ongoing works of the Pacific Games Office for their effort to secure the funding.