Council to review XVI Games, including transgender issue

The 24 nations participating in the XVI Pacific Games had ample time to object to any athlete participating in the now concluded edition of the Games.

Pacific Games Council will review the XVI Pacific Games and the various issues that were encountered, including the transgender weightlifter issue and whether the hosting of a large number of athletes is good for host nations going forward.

This was the response of the Pacific Games Council President, Vidhya Lakhan, regarding reports and comments made against New Zealand weightlifter, Laurel Hubbard as well as various other issues that were experienced during the hosting of the XVI edition of the Games in Samoa.

Hubbard claimed gold in the women’s +87kg category, beating local favourite Fegaiga Stowers of Samoa, who had to settle for silver in the first week of the Games. 

Mr. Lakhan said participating nations had prior knowledge of Hubbard's participation in the 2019 XVI Pacific Games but no one objected.

“I have been reading the media here but our people have known that this person, Hubbard, is going to come to the Games and take part in the Games but nobody said anything, nobody objected.

“There two points I want to make and you have to understand the background. P.G.As’ are required to register all their athletes prior to the game and there is a cutoff date when the final lists of athletes from each of the countries are locked in. 

“So those lists are than by sport are sent to each of the participating nation so Samoa will get to see all the athletes from other participating countries and so will other countries. 

"And the sports federations in these countries are required to go through the list of all basket ballers, weightlifters etc, and if you feel a bit uncomfortable about any of the athletes on the list, that is the time to object, you can appeal, than it comes back to the Council. 

“We have an appeals tribunal and they will address the appeal, make inquiries, investigations etc. and they would issue a decision, and that decision is final," he said. 

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Mr. Lakhan said the transgender issue will also be discussed by the Games Council.

“It’ll be taken into consideration when they do the review and in that review we will also consult the international federations, what is their policy, because the sport belongs to them not to us.

“So the weightlifting federation will tell us what the policies on transgender athletes’ taking part are. Those international federations who are silent and who may leave it to the Games council to make a decision, than hopefully by the next Games, the Council will have a position on transgender athletes. 

“At the moment we are just guarded by international federation rules because this is something new that has just cropped up.”

He explained the Council doesn’t allow any appeal when all athletes are ready to participate in the Games.  

“If someone brings in an athlete, paid the airfares and other expenses, and when they arrive he is told sorry you can’t play you have to go home, we don’t encourage that. That is not our policy. 

“The time to appeal is when the list comes out and after 10 days you can’t appeal, so everybody who is here participate according to our rule, take part, win medals. 

“The only results that can be changed is if there is a doping violence, we are required as part of the signatory to the W.A.D.A. Convention, people get disqualified, new people come up, silver gets gold and bronze. So that is the only result changes we have, otherwise nothing else changes.”

Mr. Lakhan said at the end of every Games, a review of the constitution, protocol and regulation of the Council is done. 

“We look at our sports programme, what sports we have on the programme, which sports are becoming more popular, which are less popular, so these are made after that evaluation. 

“We also look at athlete numbers. I’ve already told my sports committee that 5,000 athletes in the Pacific Games is too big, so we have to look at reducing the size of the Games because our island nations are not that big, that they can afford to host and cater for transport for these number of people. 

“Whether we have too many team sports, if we do, what can we do to bring the numbers to a manageable level, so we don’t want countries to say or the number is too big, we can’t host. So it must be manageable, something we can afford to host. Those are some of the things we will do.”

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