(ATR) The Pacific Games Council says it received official notice from the Tongan Government that the country is withdrawing as host of the 2019 Games.
Tongan officials after winning the 2019 Pacific Games (Pacific Games Council)
Yesterday, media reports said that the country’s President Akilisi Pohiva was against hosting the 2019 Pacific Games due to a World Bank report projecting rising costs. Other reports quickly said that heads of the organizing committee and Tonga Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee were committed to the Games.
Pacific Games Council leadership told Around the Rings yesterday
it was waiting for an official response from the Tongan government before making a decision. Today, that response has come.
A statement from the Pacific Games Council to ATR
says that the Tongan government gave its official intent. The statement says the council “was not consulted in this decision and no attempt was made to seek the [council’s] assistance,” in its decision.
“As far as the PGC is concerned, preparations were on track for staging the Games despite interference by the Prime Minister in the workings of the independent Games Organizing Committee,” the statement added.
Lord Sevele, Pacific Games chief executive, told Matangi Tonga
yesterday that government assistance would only count for 30 percent of the Games’ budget. Sevele said that memorandums from Australia, China, and New Zealand have been signed to receive a large amount of funding for the Games. The bulk of that funding is coming from China.
Pacific Games Council president Vidhya Lakhan said the decision to withdraw from hosting was “disappointing and confusing". Lakhan said the council’s executive board will meet to discuss next steps for the Games “in the very near future”.
“[The decision] robs Tonga’s youth and its future generations of the golden opportunity to receive badly needed sport and recreation facilities as well as the chance to develop their human resource capacity through being involved in a nation building event,” Lakhan said in a statement. “Tonga’s citizens and businesses will also now miss out on the many vital employment and commercial opportunities associated with the heightened economic activity around the Games.”
Written by Aaron Bauer
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