Two years back in 2019, the Pacific Games were held in Samoa. 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; also has 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.
Gaming History of Samoa
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, which is a member of the Pacific Islands Rugby Alliance. Hence, 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 in August during the council’s board meeting in Vanuatu.
Lately, the Pacific Games Council has 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 offered 26 sports when it hosts the 2019 Pacific Games in Apia. Samoa had two fewer sports than the 2015 Pacific Games held in Papua New Guinea. Of the 26 events, the host had 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 were the two new additions to the calendar of events. As it was 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. It was the last time that Pacific Games had 26 sports. As the council will only allow 24 events, beginning in 2023 “to maintain the sustainability and affordability of the Games.”
Schedule of Games
This competition in Samoa followed the original schedule set by Tonga, so the Games will run from July 8 to 20. Australia and New Zealand are on the invitee list to participate in the Samoa-hosted Games, but only in 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 was held in Apia, Samoa. The Games showcased the participation of more than 3000 athletes from 22 Pacific Nations in 28 sports and disciplines. The participating countries were 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, said the country is ecstatic to be hosting the Games and has met every deadline required of them.
According to a 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 refurbishments 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.”
4000 Atheles and Deligates
Over 4,000 athletes and officials arrive in Apia. 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 had worked 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 said China 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 was concluded 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 holds every four years and began in 1963. The games governing body is the Pacific Games Council.
At the end of every game, the council flag goes to the next host nation. With the 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 modernize and revise its charter in light of these changes in the region and the changing place of Sport in our society, thus the council adopted a new charter in 2007. The current President of the Council is Vidhya Lakhan from Fiji.