Pacific Games Council eye new host by September as Tonga 2019 withdrawal made official

Friday, 30th June, 2017

Tonga's Parliament repealed the Pacific Games Organising Act earlier this week, signalling the end of any hopes they would stage the event.

The country was handed a deadline of June 30 to address financial concerns over staging the 2019 Pacific Games, or they risk officially losing the hosting rights.

The deadline was revealed following a meeting of the Pacific Games Council (PGC) Executive Board, who "resolved to make one last attempt to keep the 2019 Pacific Games in Tonga".

Tonga had seemingly withdrawn from staging the Games last month amid concerns the country could face economic difficulties if it went ahead.

On June 7, Tonga’s Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pōhiva said he wanted to focus the country’s finances on more important areas of the economy and that the decision to withdraw from hosting the Games was "final".

Earlier reports had claimed that ‘Aisake Eke, the former Minister of Finance, had told the Tonga Sports Association and National Olympic Committee that funds had already been set aside for the Games by the Government.

The PGC claimed they favour "keeping the door open to the Tongan Government for a final short period" when giving them the deadline.

A vote of 13-10 saw the Tongan Parliament repeal the Pacific Games Organising Act, according to Matangi Tonga.

The act was passed in 2013, shortly after Tonga had been awarded the Games by the PGC.

It saw the formal establishment of an organising committee, creating positions as chief executive and secretary general.

The body, independent of Government, were tasked with organising, overseeing and conducting the Pacific Games.

The repeal of the act has officially ended of hopes for Tonga to stage the event.

The PGC had threatened to sue the Tongan Government over a breach of contract if they were required to find an alternative host.

"With the passing of the 30 June deadline, PGC will take formal steps to terminate their host agreement," the PGC told insidethegames.

"PGC will put out its expression of interest imminently, asking for submissions from our member Pacific Games Associations by the end of July. 

"We expect to conduct assessments, visits and negotiations in August, with an aim to make a recommendation on a new host by the end of August."

Fiji pulled out of the running to be a potential replacement host following a series of consultations, earlier this month.

Fijian capital city Suva has hosted the Games on three previous occasions in 1963, 1979 and 2003.

Papua New Guinea, who hosted the Games in 2015 in Port Moresby, have already stated they will not be considering a bid to host the 2019 edition.



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