15 May 2017

Tonga processes withdrawal from Pacific Games hosting

2:19 pm on 15 May 2017

Tonga is currently processing its withdrawal documents to be submitted to 2019 Pacific Games Council.

Reports say Tonga has reviewed hosting the games following an analysis of the impact of hosting the event would have on the economy.

Team Tonga at the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby.

Photo: RNZI / Vinnie Wylie

A former finance minister said Tonga should have pulled out of hosting games a long time ago.

Lisiate 'Akolo was finance minister when Tonga was awarded hosting rights in 2012 and said news that the government was moving to pull out of the games was not a surprise.

Mr 'Akolo said he had reservations at the time because the country was relying on budget support of around $US33 million by donor partners.

He said he had also recently written numerous letters to the current prime minister 'Akilisi Pohiva to express his concerns.

"I thought it was not appropriate for us to consider building facilities and other things like that for the games while we have been living under the mercy of our donor

partners. Issue number two of course is the question of our affordability to continue to maintain these facilities after the games."

Preparations for the games have been plagued with controversy since Tonga was awarded the hosting rights.

There have been construction delays, financial concerns, contractual disputes and an ongoing feud between prime minister 'Akilisi Pohiva and organising committee chair Lord Sevele which culminated in the latter being reinstated by the courts after Mr Pohiva removed him.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs