The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will be informed that the Oceania region now has a Continental Games called the ‘Pacific Games”.
The historic decision was reached at the Pacific Games Council (PGC) General Assembly in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea Friday, which culminated with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Oceania Olympic Committee (ONOC) President Dr Robin Mitchell and PGC President Vidya Lakhan.
Dr Mitchell was signing on the approval of the 17 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and Lakhan on behalf of the 22 Pacific Games Associations or island countries members of PGC.
“Both Ric Blas and I will be attending a meeting of the executives of ANOC (Association of National Olympic Committees) 204 member countries to advise them that we now have a Continental Games in Oceania called the Pacific Games,” said Dr Mitchell who is also an IOC member.
“On behalf of ONOC, I’m very pleased to be here to sign the MOU on behalf of the National Olympic Committees.
“It’s been a process that has taken us a little while but I think the outcomes are good, “said Dr Mitchell.
Oceania had been the only continent without a Continental Games and athletes from the region had to go to other competition and regions to try and qualify for the Olympics.
“It’s particularly good for us in the sense that the Pacific Games Council is in control on the way we move forward.
“I think it’s important to recognise that both Australia and New Zealand want to take part in our games,” he added.
Australia and New Zealand have not been included in the Pacific Games, which started in 1963.
PGC President Vidya Lakhan was delighted at the signing of the MOU in front of delegates from 21 of the 22 Pacific Games Association members that make up the PGC.
“For me, I think for the Pacific Games Council this is a historic event, entering into a new era which has taken us a very long long time,” said an ecstatic PGC boss.
“From memory more than 15 years but we have crossed that line and we entering a new era, as we have agreed and ONOC has also agreed that any invitation extended to the Australia and New Zealand will be on a gradual basis.
“The invitation will be in only four sport. We going to trial it to see how it works,” Lakhan said.
One of the main reasons for the delay in admitting Australia and New Zealand is the fear by several island nations that the two metropolitan countries would dominate and the Pacific Games loose its tradition and culture.
During the assembly several countries cautioned the PGC family to tread carefully.
“We going to trial it and see how it works, if it works gradually it will increase but the most important thing for us, for the Pacific Games Council is the fact that the Pacific Games will always be the property of the Pacific Games Council.
“And I want to take this opportunity to assure you all our 22 members that as we move forward we will always protect your interest and your rights.”
The signing of the MOU comes one year away from the Port Moresby 2015 (POM2015) Pacific Games and makes it the first Continental Games of the region.
POM2015 is scheduled to start on July 4, 2015.
PGC has decided to allow Australia and New Zealand in only four sports – namely Rugby 7s, Sailing, Weightlifting and Taekwondo.
Both ONOC and the PGC feel the inclusion of the Trans-Tasman neighbours will help lift the standard of competition for Pacific athletes in major events such as the Olympic Games.
“I think we can look forward to an interesting competition in 2015. Good luck to the Organising Committee and the PNG hosts who have the task of putting on the competition,” said Dr Mitchell.
Delegates at the General Assembly also toured various venues for the upcoming games.
The organisers are hard pressed to complete the venues in less than 12 months.
The CEO of POM2015 Games Organising Committee Peter Stewart is adamant PNG will deliver an extraordinary games.
“Money is not a problem,” said Stewart.
He said that with the support of the Papua New Guinea Pacific Games Association (PNGOC) are performing strongly and putting together detailed plans within a sufficient budget for the delivery of the services to be provided to the athletes: sport competition, accommodation, catering, transport, medical, and security.
The PGC membership was fully briefed on all of these plans at the General Assembly and was very impressed with the level of detail.
Stewart adds that from a sport perspective, which is the heart of the Games, the Port Moresby 2015 Games Organising Committee, will deliver two excellent ground-breaking initiatives to provide a tremendous legacy for the development of a more professional Pacific Games, including:
• Hosting of a Chefs de Mission Seminar for each of the 22 Pacific Games Associations in Port Moresby in early 2015; and
• Also, in early 2015, the hosting a second All of Sport Meeting of the 28 International Federation Technical Delegates.
In marketing and communications, the Pacific Games Council is delighted with the community engagement program to excite and motivate the people of Papua New Guinea to develop a strong emotional connection to the 2015 Pacific Games.
The PGC Executive Director Andrew Minogue says the PGC also appreciates the support being provided by the Government of PNG and commercial sponsors, including BSP, the Official Sponsor of the 2015 Pacific Games.
The main area of focus for the Pacific Games Council and all stakeholders must remain the timely delivery of the Games venues to the Port Moresby 2015 Games Organising Committee to enable them to successfully deliver the Games.
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands was awarded the 2021 Pacific Mini Games.
The Assembly decided to stick with the current arrangements rather than making the Mini Games into the Youth Games.
Vanuatu Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (VASANOC) vice-president Joe Carlo updated the General Assembly on their preparations to host the 2017 Mini Games.
Carlo informed the meeting that he will be meeting with the Chinese Embassy officials on his return for assistance.
President of the Tongan Sports Association and National Olympic Committee (TASANOC) Lady Robyn Taho also gave a report on Tonga’s preparation for the 2019 Pacific Games.
Lady Robyn said that TASANOC’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and former Tongan Prime Minister Lord Sevele has been brought on board to spearhead Tonga’s preparation.