Cooks rule out bid on Games for now

Friday June 09, 2017 Written by Published in Other Sports

Cook Islands has ruled itself out of bidding to save the 2019 Pacific Games that have been left abandoned after Tonga pulled out of hosting the event.

 

Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee (CISNOC) secretary general Robert Graham said the country cannot host an event of that magnitude.

“We can host Mini Games but, at the moment, we are not in a position to bid for that as well,” he said.

“We need some time to build and look into our infrastructure before showing any interest of hosting the Mini Games.”

The Pacific Games Council (PGC) in a statement this week confirmed that Tonga had officially pulled out of hosting the 2019 Pacific Games.

The country won the bid in 2012, but its government last month voted for the decision to withdraw from hosting the Games.

PGC president Vidhya Lakhan and chief executive officer Andrew Minogue, visited Nuku’alofa earlier this week as part of its resolution to make one last attempt to keep the 2019 Pacific Games in Tonga.

A meeting was held between the council and prime minister Akilisi Pohiva and two of his ministers at which Pohiva stated that the Cabinet’s decision for Tonga to withdraw from hosting the 2019 Pacific Games was final.

“The prime minister said the government wished to focus its resources on other more important areas of economic development and that sport was not an urgent priority for the government,” PGC said in a statement.

The council expressed its disappointment in not being consulted before the decision was taken and in the Government’s unwillingness to negotiate a solution for whatever financial concerns it had.

It reminded the Tongan PM had said its government was a party to a legally binding contract and that in unilaterally withdrawing from hosting the Games, the PGC would seek legal advice with a view to formally terminating the Host Agreement and to seek damages for breach of contract.

The PGC will now start the process of selecting an alternative host nation quickly.

Graham said there was already interest from other nations who were keen to host the 2019 Games.

“Tahiti was one of the bidders for the 2019 Pacific Games and they have the facilities to host as well as Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Samoa, which have also shown interest,” he said.

“Normally, they would give chance to the country which hosted the last Games the first chance which is PNG but then there are other factors like funds to host the teams, etc., to be considered.”    

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