SOL23: Wallis & Futuna’s Chef De Mission leads the way, Australia sends 100 police officers

Polelei Valetino arrives in Honiara

The Chef De Mission (CDM) for Team Wallis & Futuna, Polelei Valetino, has arrived in Solomon Islands ahead of his team.

Valetino was welcomed by GOC PGA Team at the Henderson international airport.

During an interview at the airport upon his arrival, Valetino said, “Our team is participating in seven sports, and we will compete in all of them. Our full delegation, which includes athletes and team coaches, totals around 88 members.”

“Our team is expected to arrive in the country on Wednesday, 15 November on a shuttle flight, and we will be accommodated at the SINU Kukum Campus for the duration of two weeks during the games,” Valetino added.

At the 17th Pacific Games, Team Wallis & Futuna will compete in various sports including athletics, women’s beach volleyball, and Va’a. CDM Polelei, is very confident in the team and hopes they will win gold medals.

Polelei Valetino encouraged the public and communities throughout the Solomon Islands to come and support the Wallis & Futuna team during the Pacific Games Sol2023.

Australia sends 100 police to Solomon Islands for Pacific Games

Meanwhile, the Australian Federal Police said it had sent 100 officers to the Solomon Islands on Wednesday to boost security for the Pacific Games which starts next week.

The deployment of more Australian police to the Pacific Islands nation, which struck a policing deal with China this year, comes as Australia seeks to remain its primary security partner.

Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese arrived in the Cook Islands on Wednesday to attend a meeting of the region’s 18-member bloc, the Pacific Islands Forum, amid security tensions between the United States and China.

Albanese said this week it was important for “Pacific family” to look after the “security interests of the region”.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare is among four leaders who will not attend the annual Pacific Islands Forum meeting, instead sending a minister as he prepares to host the games, which open Nov. 19.

China, which donated the main sporting stadium for the Pacific Games, has previously said it would assist with security for the event, which is expected to draw 5000 athletes.

Australia, New Zealand and the United States are concerned Chinese police could dislodge a long-standing security arrangement Canberra has with the Pacific Islands nation.

In a statement, the Australian Federal Police said security for the games was being led by the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force. At the request of the Solomon Islands, Australia Federal Police would assist across the capital Honiara and at games venues, it added.