3 Jun 2016

Tongan Sports Minister says country wants Games

1:44 pm on 3 June 2016

Tonga's Sports Minister says the country can't afford to lose hosting rights for the 2019 Pacific Games.

The Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva sacked Lord Sevele as CEO and chair of the local organising committee.

However the Pacific Games Council said Lord Sevele remained in the position as the government didn't have the authority to make changes.

Previously, the Council warned the government not to interfere saying its hosting agreement could be cancelled.

Team Tonga at the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby.

Team Tonga at the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby. Photo: RNZI / Vinnie Wylie

But Mr Pohiva said if that happened it would not hinder local sports or Tonga's participation in other regional and international events.

The Chief Secretary Palenitina Langa'oi also reportedly wrote to the Council saying the government would welcome a decision to cancel its host agreement and it was prepared to withdraw funding and support.

Sports Minister Fe'ao Vakata said that would be a blow for the kingdom.

"It will be a big deal and unfortunately if that is the Chief Secretary's letter, she doesn't speak for parliament. It will be big, big issue for Tonga and for myself personally if the hosting of the SPG (Pacific Games) 2019 is taken away from Tonga."

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