Take a bow Samoa. You have done it again!
All is well that ends well. The fun that was the 2019 XVI Pacific Games officially ended at the Apia Park last night when the Games flag was lowered and presented to the next host, Solomon Islands, and the torch that had been burning at Apia Park since two Sundays ago, extinguished.
Today, we want to say well done Samoa. You have done it again. Everything about this event has aptly reflected what we’ve come to know as the “miracle games.” From the start to finish. What an effort!
By many accounts, the biggest Pacific Games ever in terms of participants was a roaring success. Which is ironic because this would also go down in history as the shortest time any country would have had to prepare, and because of that it might also be the cheapest in terms of operational costs.
But then if there was a country in the Pacific that could do it, you wouldn’t put it past Samoa. Under the guidance of Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, Samoa rose to the occasion.
And there is no one better to offer an assessment of Samoa’s performance than a man who knows the Games like no other. We’re talking about the 91-year-old Pacific Games Council Life Member, Roger Kaddour, who is in Apia and offered his sincere thanks to Samoa during an interview with your newspaper.
“I congratulate Samoa in the way they have organised the event,” he said. “Nothing is easy when we have to host 24 countries, and Samoa has done very well.”
For the uninitiated, Mr. Kaddour is a founding member of the Games and the man they called the “pen of the charter” when he was just 30 years old. That was a long time ago and so he also knows how far Samoa has come in terms of hosting this event.
To bring perspective into how much of an achievement by Samoa, to be able organise to host these Games in less than 17 months after Tonga had withdrawn for financial reasons, Mr. Kadour took us for a trip down memory lane.
“My first visit to Samoa was a long time ago when Samoa was accepted to be the host of the Games after Guam in 1975,” he remembered.
“So I came around to visit Samoa and after three days; I said no you are not ready for the Games. I don’t give you four years but eight years to prepare.”
Cutting a long story, Fiji hosted the event in 1979.
Samoa had to wait until 1983 for its first experience of the Pacific Games. The Games returned in 2007 and here we are again in 2019. How things have changed.
And Mr. Kadour now cannot stop singing Samoa’s praises.
“Samoa is very good in doing that,” he said. “I am glad to see what Samoa has done. I am very happy. All is done very well. I am glad to be here with you and to see how the game has been done. Samoa has done perfectly well.”
But it’s not just Mr. Kadour who is impressed. Another equally important man is the President of the Pacific Games Council, Vidhya Lakhan, whose choice of words on the front page of yesterday’s Samoa Observer summed it up quite nicely.
“Thank you Samoa,” he said. “Samoa had less than two years, and they did exceptionally well. The hospitality of the Samoan people, the manner in which we’ve been looked after, cared for, is wonderful.
“The support of the Government, the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi himself, the Minister for Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, they did really well.
“Marvellous Games, so thank you Samoa.”
We can go on and on but you get our drift. The point is that as a nation, we should all be proud of what has been achieved during the past two weeks. It has certainly been a gold medal performance worthy of celebration.
Was it problem-free? No. Was everybody happy? No. Why? Well that’s life. Problems and challenges exist no matter what. And we cannot keep everyone happy. There are people who will always be unhappy and in some circumstances they cannot be helped.
What we can say is that as a nation, and judging from the effort put in by all sectors of this country, we gave it our all. In the words of athletes, Samoa left everything on the field.
Today, we join the Head of State, Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and all the people of Samoa, in bidding farewell to all our Games visitors. Have a safe journey home and please do visit us again.
As for Samoa, let’s congratulate Prime Minister Tuilaepa, the Chairman of the Pacific Games Organising Committee, Loau Solamalemalo Sio, the Chief Executive Officer of the Pacific Games Office, Falefata Hele Matatia, the Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (S.A.S.N.O.C.) and all the people of Samoa who made the 2019 Pacific Games the success it was.
Let’s not forget all the businesses, local and international, who offered to sponsor the event. We also want to thank our donor partners and countries, especially China, for their tremendous support. We should not forget the prayers being offered by the leaders of churches and different denominations and our people all over the world, who have been supporting Samoa from afar.
Lastly, in everything we do, let’s acknowledge the guidance, leading and blessings of the Almighty God who has once more looked upon Samoa favourably.
Take a well-deserved break this Sunday Samoa, God bless!