13 Oct 2016

Sport: Pacific Games Council expects Tonga to remain as host

12:23 pm on 13 October 2016

The Pacific Games Council says it expects Tonga to remain as host of the 2019 Pacific Games.

Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva told parliament on Tuesday that he has doubts that Tonga will be ready in time to host the event.

He said the government had still not found land to build an 18-hole golf course for the Games and the scheduled upgrade of the Teufaiva Stadium was also in doubt.

Tonga's Prime Minister, 'Akilisi Pohiva

Tonga's Prime Minister, 'Akilisi Pohiva Photo: RNZI/Alex Perrottet

But the President of the Pacific Games Council, Vidhya Lakhan, said they remain supportive of Tonga as host nation.

"As far as the Pacific Games Council is concerned, the 2019 Pacific Games will continue to be hosted by Tonga," he said.

"The Tongan Pacific Games Association, its 2019 Games Organising Committee, many members of the Tongan Government and Parliament, and most importantly the Tongan people, all expect that the Games will happen in Tonga in 2019 and that they will be hosted successfully, befitting Tonga's proud sporting history".

Vidhya Lakhan said the Council has always taken a flexible and modest approach to the requirements of the sporting facilities to ensure that the Games leave Tonga with an affordable legacy.

Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and Pacific Games Council President Vidhya Lakhan at the PGC General Assembly.

Vidhya Lakhan. Photo: ONOC

He said the current nine hole golf course would be suitable for the Games and at no stage did they request it be redeveloped into an 18-hole facility.

The CEO of the Tonga 2019 Organising Committee, Lord Sevele, said an 18-hole course was looked into but ruled out.

"When the feasibility study was done it showed that it was going to cost too much. Also and discussed with experts in the field - we brought some from New Zealand to advise us - their advice was to maintain an 18-hole golf course is going to be expensive and we agreed with that," he said.

The Pacific Games Council said it will continue to work cooperatively with the Tongan Government to ensure that the Games venue requirements are affordable and to ensure that the budget of the Games Organising Committee remains modest but capable of supporting a successful Pacific Games.

"I urge the Government to fully get behind the Games and move forward with the exciting plans they have developed to build the facilities and deliver the Games in conjunction with the Tonga 2019 Pacific Games Organising Committee," Lakhan said.

Vidhya Lakhan said the Tonga 2019 Games Organising Committee budget is considerably much smaller than the budgets of the past two previous hosts and is similar to the Samoa's budget when it staged the Pacific Games in 2007.