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2017 Mini Games in jeopardy?

Friday 11 December 2015 | Published in Regional

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2017 Mini Games in jeopardy?
A view on the site of the proposed Korman sports stadium in Port Vila as the Pacific Games Council voices concern over a lack of progress in preparations for the Vanuatu-hosted 2017 Mini Games.

PORT VILA – The Pacific Games Council is worried by the lack of progress in Vanuatu towards the 2017 Mini Games.

Demolition work was due to begin in March on the main stadium in Port Vila, but was delayed following Cyclone Pam.

Nine months on Chinese contractors have yet to begin construction and the executive director of the Pacific Games Council, Andrew Minogue, told Radio New Zealand International that the current tumultuous political situation hasn’t helped.

“We do have some some concerns up there. The full executive board were meeting in Port Vila last week and expressed those concerns right up to the Prime Minister, who we met on Friday.

“The Chinese Government have made the commitment to redevelop Korman, which is the main stadium site in Port Vila, and if they go ahead and do that as planned then we’re going to have most of the Games venues provided at that main site.

“Obviously the cyclone set things back a little bit. Right now the Chinese government is completing a convention centre in the middle of Port Vila and once that’s finished we understand they will turn their attentions to the Korman site and the sports venues that we need for the Mini Games.

“We also have the unfortunate situation up there at the moment with the parliament being dissolved and quite a bit of political instability.

“At no stage in the last four years since Vanuatu got the Games has the government or opposition said that we don’t want them and that was the message we got last week.

“The prime minister made some agreements with the Pacific Games Council to basically get the project back on track and opposition, who we met with, who had previously been in government when they won the bid, is highly supportive of Vanuatu hosting the Games.

“It’s just now a question of just getting everybody focused and moving on with it – so we’re confident at this stage that it will happen. The Games are still two years away but a lot needs to happen and fairly quickly.

Asked in the Games Council needed a contingency or a worst-case-scenario Minogue said they are looking at all options.

“As I said, I think at this stage the confidence is there that Vanuatu can host these Games and they should host them – they won the bid in a competitive environment back in 2011 with a couple of other bidders.

“We have a General Assembly there next May in Port Vila, which is going to be a great opportunity for the full Games community to basically sit down and see where they are with things.

“I suggest if there’s been no significant progress between now and May then that contingency planning will probably have to ramp up a bit. But as I said, we’re confident Vanuatu can do this – they’ve just got focus their minds and get on with the job.

“They’ve always been looking at completing the venue construction process in June 2017, which will make at least a three-month period before the Games start, so any testing or overruns that need to be taken care of can be done.

“I guess we saw that in Port Moresby for the Pacific Games, didn’t we, where some of the venues were delivered right up until the time of the Games and we still had a good quality competition that unfolded.

“But in getting to that June 2017 completion date we’ve obviously got to do a lot of work and make sure that they’re ready to go and start the work in the new year so it’s a very critical time,” Minogue said.

- Dateline Pacific/PNC