Australia and N.Z. granted Associate Membership of Pacific Games
Australia and New Zealand were unanimously granted associate membership of the Pacific Games during the Pacific Games Council general assembly convened at the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel and Bungalow on Sunday.
The decision followed an unopposed motion and recommendation from the Pacific Games Executive Board to grant the big brothers of the Pacific Island nations a ticket of associate membership in the Pacific Games.
Pacific Games XVI hosted by Samoa is the second event in which the Trans-Tasman neighbours have participated in upon invitation.
The eight games Australian and New Zealand athletes featured in include archery, athletics, beach volleyball, football, sailing, taekwondo weightlifting and rugby sevens.
The first one was the Pacific Games held in Papua New Guinea (P.N.G.) in 2015 where the two countries played in four sports at that Games edition four years ago.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Pacific Games Council President Vidhya Lakhan said once Australia and New Zealand become associate members they will have the right to participate in the games.
However the Council will have the final say on which sports they can participate in, added Mr. Lakhan.
The participation of Australia and New Zealand was a long term objective to strengthen the Pacific Games and also to ensure that the event was recognised globally.
While most countries have their own Continental Games, the Pacific Games is not recognised as a Continental Games because New Zealand and Australia were not allowed to take part.
There were fears expressed in the past that the two countries could dominate the sporting events in a Pacific Games.
But the President pointed out that the two countries did not dominate the previous one held in P.N.G.
Australian and New Zealand representatives at the general assembly meeting were thankful for being welcomed to be part of the Pacific family in terms of the games to help strengthen sports in the region.
On the current status of the Pacific Games XVI, President Lakhan acknowledged the people of Samoa for their effort in welcoming the athletes and officials.
Mr. Lakhan said despite disruption to some of the games like tennis due to the weather and the change of venue for rugby, the games are going well.
“We’ve had some teething problems with the village accommodation but there have been adjustments made and the athletes are very happy,” he said.
“They are enjoying Samoan hospitality and Samoan food and the competition with some good results.
“I also want to thank the people of Samoa for their hospitality and welcoming everyone.”