1 Jul 2019

Sport: Samoa 'ready' to host Pacific Games

1:19 pm on 1 July 2019

Samoa has been declared "ready" to host the 2019 Pacific Games, which get underway in Apia one week from today.

About 3,500 athletes from 24 nations across the region will compete in 26 sports from next Monday.

The swimming venues is being refurbished for the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa.

Swimming will be one of the first sports to begin competition on Monday 8 July. Photo: Samoa 2019 Pacific Games

Samoa was only awarded the hosting rights in September 2017 after the Tongan government claimed it could not afford to stage the event.

But Pacific Games Council CEO Andrew Minogue says the Pacific Games Office in Samoa has done a very good job in a very short amount of time to ensure everything is ready to go.

"The organising committee opened for business on the 1st of March last year so really it's only 15 or 16 months," he said.

"I personally witnessed the team organising these Games working almost around the clock - speak to them and get messages from them at all hours of the day and night.

"They're a good young team, they're working extremely hard and they'll be ready for Sunday night's opening ceremony and the sporting competition that starts a week today."

Apia Park will host the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2019 Pacific Games.

Apia Park will host the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2019 Pacific Games. Photo: Samoa 2019 Pacific Games

"It's a country that knows the Games and knows how to host events like this - not just from sporting facilities but right down to things like the cleaning and the feeding and the catering and the transportation so I think the athletes will have a good experience here in Samoa," Minogue said.

Samoa will be the biggest team of athletes in Apia, with just over 500 competitors, and the Andrew Minogue said it's always a good sign when host nation performs well.

"Plenty of support obviously with the home crowd and I think we're all very interested to see how high up the medal tally they do get," he said. "A lot of their athletes have been preparing in China so I think a lot of time and effort has gone into preparing the home team.

"Last time around back in 2007 they just finished third, just one gold medal behind Tahiti in second place, so I think a top three finish for Samoa could be expected and hopefully for them they do really well and for the Games as a whole because I think we always appreciate when the home country does well, it makes the whole Games better."

Pacific Games Council CEO Andrew Minogue.

Pacific Games Council CEO Andrew Minogue. Photo: Supplied

It was Papua New Guinea that finished atop the medals table in Port Moresby four years ago and but Andrew Minogue expects there will also be some other strong challengers.

"New Caledonians will be pushing to get back on top of the medal tally where they usually are. Papua New Guinea got there last time and I think New Cal is pretty keen to get back to number one," he said.

Australia finished sixth on the medals table in Port Moresby despite only being invited alongside New Zealand to compete in weightlifting, taekwondo, sailing and rugby sevens. But both countries will have an increased presence in Samoa after that number was doubled to include athletics, beach volleyball, judo and football, while archery will also hold a separate Olympic qualifier.

"We had Australia and New Zealand debuting last time around in PNG - they'll be here with bigger teams this time because they're in more sports," he said.

"We've got a couple of sports that are designated as Olympic qualifiers: in archery there will actually be athletes that qualify directly to Tokyo in the mixed gender recurve event, I think we're all looking forward to seeing that.

"The weightlifting of course is always a big event at the Pacific Games but this time it triples up as the Oceania and the Commonwealth Championships, so we're going to have athletes coming from places like Great Britain and India and Malaysia and parts of Africa - we've never seen that before at the Pacific Games."

Andrew Minogue said the Pacific Games Council will also vote on July 14 on whether to admits Australia and New Zealand as associate members of the PGC, while the hosts for the 2021 and 2025 Pacific Mini Games will also be confirmed.

The torch relay for the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games continues in the countdown to Sunday's Opening Ceremony.

The torch relay for the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games continues in the countdown to Sunday's Opening Ceremony. Photo: Samoa 2019 Pacific Games

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