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Pacific Games: Trans-Tasman nations inclusion discussed

Wednesday 11 May 2016 | Published in Regional

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PACIFIC – The Pacific Games Council will this week debate a proposal to expand Australia and New Zealand’s participation in the Games at their General Assembly in Port Vila.

Athletes from the Trans-Tasman neighbours took part in last year’s Pacific Games in Port Moresby, competing in weightlifting, sailing, rugby sevens and taekwondo.

New Zealand only competed in two sports but Australia finished sixth overall with a total haul of 47 medals.

The Executive Director of the Pacific Games Council, Andrew Minogue, said members will now decide whether to increase their participation from four to eight sports at the 2019 Games in Tonga.

“We’re not at the stage yet of full involvement. We have to bear in mind that it’s a trial and small steps and also we have in Tonga’s case a country that signed a contract with us to host these Games back in 2012 when this wasn’t part of the Pacific Games set-up.

“So we have to respectfully tread carefully for all of the stakeholders but the trial was seen as very successful and we want to try and improve or enhance that in 2019 with eight sports that are going to be proposed for Australia and New Zealand to be invited.”

The General Assembly is being held on Tuesday and Wednesday with the Council having a number of matters to address.

Council officials are liaising with organisers of the 2017 Mini Games in Vanuatu, days after the country’s Olympic Committee threatened to pull out of hosting because of frustrations at a lack of progress.

Tonga has also been warned it could lose hosting rights to the 2019 Pacific Games with preparations plagued by political in-fighting and financial issues.

Last week, the Pacific Games Council sent a letter to Tongan officials warning the event could be removed if Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva was successful in his desire to remove Lord Sevele as chair of the organising committee.

The Council said neither the government nor the Prime Minister had the right to remove Lord Sevele without consulting the Council.

- RNZI