4 Jul 2017

Sport: Pac Games Council takes legal action against Tongan govt

1:04 pm on 4 July 2017

The Pacific Games Council has begun legal proceedings against the Tonga government, following its decision to pull the plug on hosting the 2019 Games.

The Council confirmed yesterday it would formally terminate the host agreement with Tonga for the 2019 Pacific Games, after the deadline passed for the government to recommit its support.

PGC President Vidhya Lakhan and CEO Andrew Minogue met with the Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva, and two of his ministers in early June, in a last ditch attempt to try and change their minds.

But the Prime Minister said the cabinet's decision was final and they government wished to focus its resources on other more important areas of economic development.

Andrew Minogue said they have engaged a solicitor in Tonga and will now pursue damages through the court.

"That's an important statement for us to make. We had a contract, a binding contract," he said.

"The government unilaterally walked away from it without any consultation - that's not behaviour we think should be ignored or rewarded in any way so yeah we will be seeking legal redress for that."

Tongan prime minister 'Akilisi Pohiva meets with the Pacific Games Council in 2015.

Tongan prime minister 'Akilisi Pohiva meets with the Pacific Games Council in 2015. Photo: Supplied/Pacific Games Council

Andrew Minogue said the legal action was a matter of principle.

"We're not a money-hungry organisation, we're a very lean outfit, we've never had a lot of resources and I don't think we'll ever have a lot of resources in the future," he said.

"It's not about money, it's about the principle of walking away from a contract and we all put five years, or almost five years, of work into planning for the Games in 2019 to be in Tonga and we were contractually bound with the Government and with TASNAOC to do that.

"I think it's a very important statement of principle - you just can't walk away from those agreements unilaterally."

Andrew Minogue said the Council was now seeking expressions of interest from country's that want to host the Pacific Games in 2019, with a final decision expected by the end of August.

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