Tonga’s race against time

Political row at centre of Pacific Games delay

WITH less than three years to the Pacific Games 2019, Tonga is 18 months late in its preparations. This is despite Papua New Guinea’s pledge of $USD35 million – half of what is needed for the four-yearly event. With construction of venues yet to begin and accommodation for teams in short supply, petty politics has emerged as the newest threat to the Pacific Games. On top of that the International Olympics Committee has suspended funding to its Tongan affiliate over constitutional anomalies.

If these are not addressed, the Tonga Association of Sports and National Olympics Committee could lose its accreditation and be technically unable to host and administer the games. Oceania National Olympics Committee President, Dr Robin Mitchell has visited Tonga regularly in an attempt to keep the relationship open and the possibility of the 2019 Games alive.

Tongan Aotearoa Amateur Sports Association chairman, Wili Ilolahia, has met Games Organising Committee head, Lord Feleti Sevele, Prime Minister ‘Akilis Pohiva and senior officials in an effort to salvage the regional sports spectacle. “Tongan athletes living in New Zealand are concerned by what appears to be delays in preparations and we wanted to see whether we could help,” Ilolahia told ABC News. “We send a lot of money back home through remittances.

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