10 Sep 2013

The Pacific Games Council says no to NZ/Australian involvement

4:28 pm on 10 September 2013

The Pacific Games Council has rejected a resolution to invite New Zealand and Australia to participate in the next Pacific Games in Port Moresby.

But members have asked the Executive Board to revisit the issue next year.

Vinnie Wylie reports:

The resolution, proposed at the Council's General Assembly in Wallis and Futuna on Sunday, would have allowed the Pacific Games Council to invite athletes from New Zealand and Australia to compete in up to eight sports at the 2015 Games in Papua New Guinea. The president of the Pacific Games Council, Vidhya Lakhan, says a Continental Games is needed to align the region with what is happening in other parts of the world.

"VIDHYA LAKHAN: Because most of the international federations are now allocating qualifying quotas, particularly for the team sports, to qualify for world championships or qualify for the Olympics, there are continental quotas. If you're not in the world ranking then you have you have to go back to your continent and qualify. We are getting the international federations to recognise our games as the games in the region, but they're saying 'you are not a regional game'. We want them to recognise us."

Some countries expressed concerns over the impact including New Zealand and Australia would have on the competitiveness of Pacific countries and the unique culture of the current Games. Vidhya Lakhan says any first step would only invite Australia and New Zealand to compete in selected sports, where the Pacific is competitive, and would be done on their terms.

VIDHYA LAKHAN: They just come and play and we will lay down the conditions and if it's acceptable they come and play sports with us. That is purely to get our people to accept that we can play sports with these people and it is helping them. At the moment because we haven't had this association with the Australian and New Zealand kids I think there's a certain amount of hesitancy - they think they will take all the medals and all that sort of thing - but we want to slowly manage it.

The president of the Papua New Guinea Olympic Committee, Sir John Dawanincura, voted against the resolution but raised a late motion, that was passed, asking the Executive Board to re-look at the issue and come back with more information at next year's General Assembly.

JOHN DAWANINCURA: Basically where PNG's coming from is I can't commit my PGA to it because I haven't briefed them on it and I haven't consulted our national federations, but the weightlifting and sailing were acceptable to the idea of Oceania Championships in the 2015 Games, where the medal counts are separated. If some of our guys are good enough to win Oceania medals e it but we have a separate medal tally so there's no confusion.

The representative from Norfolk Island, Geoff Gardner, supported the proposal but says there was a lot of confusion around the Council table.

GEOFF GARDNER: Members rightfully have expressed their concern about maybe a lack of detail and are wanting additional information. That's what the board has been charged with coming back with, and so I'm sure that all of the PGAs in attendance will be looking forward to that additional information over the next 12 months.

Meanwhile further discussion were had on a proposal to convert the Pacific Mini Games into a Youth Games, with no decision made. And the Northern Marianas became the first member to formally express an interest in hosting the 2021 Pacific Mini Games.