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Cooks athletes a striking sight at sparkling Pacific Games opening

Sunday July 07, 2019 Written by Published in Other Sports
Apia's stadium was at capacity as the rain lifted for the Pacific Games opening ceremony. Apia's stadium was at capacity as the rain lifted for the Pacific Games opening ceremony. LIAM RATANA / COOK ISLANDS NEWS

The sixteenth and biggest Pacific Games is officially underway. Torrential rain subsided only moments before people began piling into Apia Park for the opening ceremony of the games. 

The Park's capacity of 12,000 people was quickly reached, and revellers were not disappointed.

The crowd was treated to a three-hour spectacle that began with the traditional team parade. The Cook Islands delegation stood out among all the others, in their striking black and green outfits with the women members adorning beautiful ei katu. Teams received deafening cheers as they circled the stadium, before proceeding to their seats at either end of the field.

The parade was followed by the ceremonial flag raising. Next came the Samoan national anthem, which was sung proudly by the locals in attendance. The Games were then blessed by Reverend Faulalo Leti. Samoan prime minister the HonourableTuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi then spoke to the crowd, branding the event as the "miracle games".

Malielegaoi acknowledged the efforts of those responsible for organising the games on only 16 months’ notice and wished all competitors good luck. He also spoke of how much it meant to Samoa to be hosting the games. “The benefits of this event will be felt for generations to come … I applaud the dedication of our public service, government corporations, private sector and especially our people who have risen to the occasion. You have exceeded all expectations," said Malielegaoi.

The Games were then officially declared open by Samoa's head of state, His Highness Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II.

President of the Pacific Games Vidhya Lakhan then addressed the crowd, acknowledging the efforts of hosts Samoa and commenting that “only the Samoans” could pull of such a feat of organising the Games on such short notice.

Entertainment began with a powerful operatic performance by Isabella Moors. This was then followed by an astounding 40-minute performance from more than 3000 Samoan students from 16 different secondary schools around the country. The performance told the story of a legendary Samoan warrior and had the crowd entranced, utilising lasers, various props, and captivating costumes.

Following the performances, the torch relay came to an end, with the Pacific Games torch being lit by famous Samoan weightlifter, Ele Opeloge. A dazzling 20-minute firework show ended proceedings.

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