2019 Pacific Games held in Samoa – The History and The Legacy

Pacific Games held in Samoa - Here’s what you should know
2019 Pacific Games held in Samoa – Here’s what you should know

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 account for 99% of the total land area; it also has eight small islets.

The main sports played in Samoa are rugby union, Samoan cricket, and netball. Rugby Union is Samoa’s national football code. Volleyball is also popular in Samoan villages.

Establishment of the Pacific Games

The South Pacific Games were renamed the Pacific Games, which came into being as a sporting occasion intended to promote harmony, friendship, and cordial competition among Pacific Island countries.

Early in the 1960s, representatives from Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa met to discuss the notion of a regional multi-sport competition, which led to the creation of the Games. Their dream came true when the first-ever South Pacific Games were held in Suva, Fiji, in 1963.

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Evolution of Pacific Games

The Pacific Games have changed dramatically since they first began, growing in the number of participating countries and the variety of sports offered.

Over the years, more Pacific Island countries have participated in the Games, seizing the chance to exhibit their athletic prowess on a regional platform. The competition now includes various sports, including weightlifting, rugby, basketball, swimming, etc.

The Pacific Games promote friendly competition and act as a forum for cultural exchange, strengthening ties between the participating countries. The Games give athletes from smaller Pacific Island nations the chance to compete alongside those from larger countries, exhibiting their talents and proudly representing their countries.

Previous Host Countries

Each Pacific Island nation hosting the Pacific Games left a distinct mark on the competition. As one of the founding countries, Fiji has hosted the Games on many occasions, including the first one in 1963 and the ones after that in 1979, 2003, and 2019. Other prominent hosts include Samoa, which hosted the event three times in 1983, 2007, and 2019, and Papua New Guinea, which held the Games in 2015.

For a variety of reasons, some Pacific Games editions have stood out. The 25th anniversary of the Games was commemorated in the 1991 edition, which was held in Papua New Guinea.

It also included the biggest number of participating nations at the time. The 2019 Pacific Games edition, jointly hosted by Samoa and Tonga, was especially noteworthy because it was the first time two countries co-hosted the event, demonstrating the spirit of cooperation and togetherness among Pacific Island governments.

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Gaming History of Samoa

Gaming History of Samoa
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 Samoa Rugby Football Union, a Pacific Islands Rugby Alliance member, governs the sport and contributes 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 Tonga’s hosting rights for the Games. Still, it 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.

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.

Samoa’s Bid and Preparation

Samoa’s swift response to the Tongan government’s late withdrawal from hosting the 2019 Pacific Games showcased its readiness and commitment. Even before officially receiving the award, Samoa began preparations for the event, securing its bid against Guam’s competition. The existing infrastructure in Samoa provided a significant advantage, requiring only minor refurbishments to meet the necessary standards.

The government’s commitment to fully funding the Games, backed by a Tala20m (US$8m) allocation of public funds, further solidified Samoa’s position as the host nation.

With a track record of successfully hosting major international sporting events, such as the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2015 and various international rugby matches, Samoa has demonstrated its capability to manage and organize large-scale competitions.

The support from China, with a signed agreement to provide grant funding for improvements to sports facilities, including the national stadium and aquatics centre, added to the preparations.

The enhanced hotel capacity from recent construction and refurbishment projects positioned Samoa as an ideal destination for visitors during the Games, showcasing its appeal as a sports and tourism hub.

Games that are being offered

Games that are being offered
Games that are being offered

Samoa offered 26 sports when it hosted the 2019 Pacific Games in Apia. Samoa had two fewer sports than the 2015 Pacific Games 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 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.

Beginning in 2023, the council will limit the number of events to 24 “to maintain the sustainability and affordability of the Games.”

Schedule of Games

Schedule of Games
Schedule of Games

This competition in Samoa followed the original schedule set by Tonga so that 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.

Participating Countries

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 host the Games and has met every required deadline.

Pacific games 2019
Pacific games 2019

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 Delegates

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 have worked hard over the past three months to ensure 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 venue upgrades and will also help provide 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 they need all parties to work together. The presentation to Pacific Games Council members concluded with a venue tour.

About Pacific Games

About pacific games
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 was held 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 regional changes 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.

Highlights of the 2019 Pacific Games

The 2019 Pacific Games were a spectacular showcase of athletic prowess, cultural richness, and regional unity. The event commenced with a mesmerizing opening ceremony, where Samoa’s vibrant traditions took centre stage, captivating audiences with colourful performances and an electric atmosphere. The closing ceremony served as a grand farewell, honouring the achievements of the participating athletes and celebrating the spirit of sportsmanship.

A wide array of sports and competitions were featured, from athletics and swimming to rugby, weightlifting, and traditional Pacific Island sports. Athletes across the Pacific region displayed exceptional talents and dedication, setting new records and thrilling spectators with their remarkable performances. The Games provided a platform for smaller island nations to shine alongside their larger counterparts, proving that size is no barrier to success.

The 2019 Pacific Games left an indelible mark, highlighting the power of sports to foster cultural exchange, unity, and friendly competition. It showcased the immense talent within the Pacific region and left a legacy of inspiration and admiration for the athletes and nations involved.

Continuing the Pacific Games Legacy

To ensure the legacy of the Pacific Games endures, a strong focus on continuous sports development programmes is necessary. This means investing in coaching efforts, training facilities, and training programmes. By giving athletes the tools and support they need to succeed, the Pacific area can raise a new generation of talented competitors.

International cooperation initiatives to exchange knowledge and best practices will aid the development of sports in the region. A culture of excellence in athletics will be promoted, and the legacy of the Pacific Games will be preserved with continued investment in sports development.

To maximise the Pacific Games’ legacy, active involvement and engagement in sports must be promoted outside of it. Promoting grassroots programmes, neighbourhood projects, and activities that support diversity are all part of this. By making sports accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, the Pacific area can encourage better lifestyles, social cohesiveness, and a sense of pride in one’s country.

A sustained sports culture is mostly the result of collaborations among educational institutions, local communities, and sporting organisations. The Pacific Games can encourage people to pursue their athletic goals by fostering a love of sports and physical activity, which will benefit the region’s general well-being.

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The 2019 Pacific Games held in Samoa showcased the rich history and cultural heritage of the Pacific region while leaving behind a significant and enduring legacy.

From the captivating opening and closing ceremonies celebrating Samoa’s vibrant traditions to athletes’ outstanding performances and achievements across various sports, the Games captured the spirit of unity, sportsmanship, and athletic excellence.

Samoa’s successful bid and meticulous preparations demonstrated its commitment to hosting major international events. The Pacific Games’ legacy extends beyond the event itself, focusing on continuing sports development programs, hosting future editions, and encouraging sports participation.

By nurturing talent, sustaining momentum, and promoting engagement in sports, the Pacific Games can leave a lasting impact on individuals, communities, and the region. The 2019 Pacific Games will be remembered as a testament to the Pacific’s sporting prowess, cultural diversity, and the spirit of camaraderie that unites nations across the region.

Mamta Sharma

Mamta is a spirited writer hailing from Wellington, bringing a youthful zest to the world of digital content. Merging her love for narrative with an eye for detail, Ella crafts stories that resonate and engage the modern reader.