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Opinion: Working together for a successful Pacific Games

Friday 17 November 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Editorials, Opinion, Pacific Games 2023, Sports

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Opinion: Working together for a successful Pacific Games
Australia’s High Commissioner to the Cook Islands Phoebe Smith with CISNOC president Hugh Graham and Keziah Lewis. SUPPLIED/ 23111612

Over the coming weeks, the Pacific will be coming together to celebrate a love of sport at the Pacific Games – the most significant sports event on the Oceania calendar. This year’s theme is ‘Challenge, Celebrate, Unite’, writes Australia’s High Commissioner to the Cook Islands Phoebe Smith.

Through sport, we share in each other’s courage and strength, and celebrate each other’s resilience and successes. It helps to bring out the best in us and build strong and lasting ties, between athletes and sporting institutions, across our region.

The 2023 Pacific Games is one of the region’s biggest events, bringing together about 5000 athletes, officials and support staff from 24 Pacific teams, in Honiara from 19 November to 2 December 2023.

Australia is proud to be supporting Solomon Islands to host a safe and successful 2023 Pacific Games through our $17 million Pacific Games Partnership. At the request of the Solomon Islands Government, Australia is deploying Australian Federal Police (AFP) personnel as part of the Solomons International Assistance Force (SIAF), and Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel to assist in security, logistics and other support roles. The AFP and ADF personnel will work under the leadership of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force alongside partners from Papua New Guinea, Fiji and New Zealand, to support a safe and secure event.

Just like in Australia, we encourage people of all ages, gender, and those with disability, to enjoy and participate in sport across the Pacific. Australian athletes will be at the Games in their green and gold, competing in events including athletics, archery, boxing and weightlifting.

I had the honour of attending the unveiling and blessing of the Cook Islands uniform for the Pacific Games. It was a fantastic event which celebrated the long history of Cook Islanders representing their country on the world stage. It was impressive to see the breadth of sports that Cook Islands is competing in, and the key supporting role that many coaches, managers and officials will also play. For many athletes, the Games will be an important step towards qualifying for events such as the Paris Olympics.

Here in the Cook Islands, the Australian High Commission is working with the Cook Islands Sports & National Olympic Committee to help establish a local High-Performance Centre, meaning that more Cook Islanders will be able to access elite training and coaching here, as they pursue their sporting careers. This project will be funded through the PacificAus Sports programme – a regional initiative which aims to unlock the potential of our rising stars and facilitate access to elite-level competitions for Pacific athletes.

On behalf of Australia, I wish all the competitors good luck. There is no greater honour than representing your country. I look forward to watching the best of Pacific sport in action over the coming weeks and will be cheering for all the talented athletes, in particular, those from Cook Islands and Australia.

Kia manuia and best of luck!