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2019 Pacific Games equipment released

The Ministry of Finance (M.O.F.) has begun releasing Pacific Games equipment, nearly a year after the landmark event finished in July 2019.

In an email, M.O.F. Chief Executive Officer, Leasiosiofa'asisina Oscar Malielegaoi said sports equipment was released to sports bodies and schools during April and May.

The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.) has been tasked with distributing equipment to schools, including which schools and what equipment they will get.

A request for a list of schools and what equipment they received was sent to the Ministry but was not responded to by press time. 

Ulugia Jay Ah Fook-Schuster said having a fleet of 36 new boats in Samoa Outrigger Canoe Association (S.O.C.A.)’s hands will make all the difference as the country prepares to host the international paddling community in 2021.

With a long waiting game now over, S.O.C.A. will be working with paddling clubs to train and prepare for the 2021 World Long Distance Championship of Outrigger Canoeing, hosted in Samoa for the first time since 1994.

“Having the equipment, especially the boats, it’s going to be better than what we had in 1994,” Ulugia told the Samoa Observer.

Hopefully it will help with training preparations as we do a few local events leading up for the paddlers to have a chance to prepare for the games.”

As well as the 16 six-person and 16 one-person canoes, the association was given lifejackets, laptops and a public address (P.A.) system, which Ulugia says are a major bonus and will help the championship run smoothly.

S.O.C.A. has begun conversations with the International Va’a Federation about a contingency plan if travel doesn’t open up in time for the event, which is tentatively scheduled for August 2021. In the meantime, Ulugia is optimistic that a large crowd can still be drawn to Samoa.

He hopes to expand the event to include other smaller competitions for club events as well as the big championship for national teams, to bring even more paddlers to Samoa with a welcome boost to the tourism industry.

“If we can run an event around this to open it up to club teams that will be good numbers for tourism hopefully,” he said.

Ulugia said all the equipment will still need to be returned to the Government after the championships.

Still under the government’s care is the entire Pacific Games fleet of vans, sedans and buses. Since the Pacific Games, the fleet was handed over to M.O.F., which has maintained various reasons for keeping the vehicles in government hands.

In October 2019, Leasiosio said that after the final major international event for the year (the China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum) the cars were transferred to storage lots in Tuanaimato and Vaimea.

But in the wake of the measles epidemic and now the COVID-19 response the fleet was mobilised once more to be used by the National Emergency Operations Centre and various ministries.

Today, Leasiosio says the fleet is also going to be used for the national census and the 2021 election.

“Government will hold on to the fleet as long as they’re needed for national duties including transport for polling officials in next year’s election 2021, National ID and Population Census in July-August 2020, etc,” he said. 

In February, confirming the equipment would eventually be released, Leasiosio did not yet have a distribution plan but said he wanted equipment out of storage.

“We don’t want anything in storage, that defeats the whole purpose of why this equipment was brought in; to develop sports,” he said.

Apart from the sports equipment and the vehicles, more assets are under M.O.F. control and are going to be sold.

“The remaining Assets will be sold to the Public through a Public Sale, as was done in the past with other government assets used for the SIDS conference. Advertisements/notification of the sale will soon go out,” Leasiosio said on Wednesday.

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