Recently the organisers of 2019 Pacific games announced that Samoa is in full preparation to hots the games in coming year. If you are wondering where Samoa is then know that Samoa lies south of the equator, about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, in the Polynesian region of the Pacific Ocean. This beautiful place consists of the two large islands of Upolu and Savai’i (which together account for 99% of the total land area) and eight small islets. The main sports played in Samoa are rugby union, Samoan cricket and netball. Rugby union is the national football code of Samoa. In Samoan villages, volleyball is also popular.
Rugby union is the national sport in Samoa and the national team, nicknamed the Manu Samoa, is consistently competitive against teams from vastly more populous nations. The sport is governed by the Samoa Rugby Football Union, who are members of the Pacific Islands Rugby Alliance, and thus, also contribute to the international Pacific Islanders rugby union team.
Samoa was awarded the games in September last year after Tonga pulled out, saying it could not afford to host Pacific games. Guam also submitted a bid to take over the hosting rights for the Games from Tonga, but did not meet the criteria of the Pacific Games Council, particularly the financial security required. The council awarded the Games to Samoa last August during the council’s board meeting in Vanuatu.
Lately the Pacific Games Council held its annual general meeting in Apia to see an update on how Samoa is progressing for the upcoming games.
Games that are being offered
Samoa will be offering 26 sports when it hosts the 2019 Pacific Games in Apia. Samoa will have two fewer sports than the 2015 Pacific Games held in Papua New Guinea. Of the 26 events, the host will have 16 compulsory sports. The list includes athletics, basketball, boxing, football, golf, judo, Rugby 7s, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, va’a (canoe), volleyball (beach and indoor) and weightlifting. Triathlon and sailing are the two new additions to the calendar of events as agreed upon during the Pacific Games Association general assembly in 2016.
The events for the 2019 Pacific Games were reduced to 26 (from 28 in PNG) during the general assembly, too. Next year will also be the last time that Pacific Games will have 26 sports, as the council will only allow 24 events, beginning in 2023 “to maintain the sustainability and affordability of the Games.”
Next year’s competition in Samoa will follow the original schedule set by Tonga, so the Games will run from July 8 to 20. Australian and New Zealand will still be invited to participate in the Samoa-hosted Games, but they are limited to field athletes in eight sports. The two powerhouse countries started competing in the Pacific Games in 2015 when they joined four sports, while in Vanuatu last month during the Mini Games, Australia and New Zealand only entered in two sports.
Thus the 16th Pacific Games will be held in Apia, Samoa. The Games will showcase the participation of more than 3000 athletes from 22 Pacific Nations in 28 sports and disciplines. The participating countries are New Caledonia, Samoa, Fiji, Guam, Tahiti, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Nauru , Norfolk Islands, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati, American Samoa, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Tonga, Wallis & Futuna, Australia and New Zealand.
Chief Executive of the Pacific Games Office, Falefata Hele Matatia, says the country is ecstatic to be hosting the Games and has met every deadline required of them.
According to news report he quoted “That’s probably one of our strongest assets in winning the Pacific Games is that most of the venues are ready to go and so it’s just a few minor refurbishment we have to do but the majority of the venues are still at a first class care of the government so we’re pretty much, as the Pacific Games Council has rightly pointed (out), we would be ready even if we had it at the end of the year.”
Over 4,000 athletes and officials expected to arrive in Apia next year. Samoa’s Minister for Sports and Chair of the Games Organising Committee, Loau Keneti Sio, said Samoa has proven time and again it is capable of hosting large-scale sporting events. The Pacific Games Office and Games Organising Committee have been working hard over the past three months to make sure athletes and officials from Samoa and around the Pacific have what they need to shine.
Falefata Hele Matatia says China has agreed to assist with some of the venue upgrades and will also help in providing sporting equipment for training and competition. He says while they are tracking ahead of schedule for next July, the short time-frame means there’s little room for error and need all parties to work together. The presentation to Pacific Games Council members will conclude with a tour of the venues.
About Pacific Games
The Pacific Games formerly known as the South Pacific Games is a multi-sport event, much like the Olympic Games albeit on a smaller scale, with participation exclusively from countries around the South Pacific Ocean. It is held every four years and began in 1963. he games governing body is the Pacific Games Council. The Games council flag is presented to the host nation of the next games at the end of every games. With expansion and economic growth in the Pacific and Oceania countries of the Pacific Islands it was now appropriate for the South Pacific Games Council to modernise and revise its charter in light of these changes in the region and the changing place of Sport in our society, thus the council adapted a new charter in 2007. The current President of the Council is Vidhya Lakhan from Fiji.