More sporting events are open for two regional sporting giants in the Pacific - New Zealand and Australia to compete in at the July Pacific Games.
From four sports when they were invited to compete in the 2015 Pacific Games, it is now up to eight for the Games this year in Samoa.
The CEO of the Pacific Games Falefata Hele Matatia told Newsline that the eight sports New Zealand and Australia will compete in are archery, athletics, beach volleyball, football, sailing, taekwondo weightlifting and rugby sevens.
New Zealand and Australia participated for the first time in the 2015 Pacific Games ( 15th Pacific Games) held in Port Moresby Papua New Guinea.
Their participation according to Radio New Zealand in 2017 was a long term objective to strengthen the Pacific Games and also to ensure that the event was recognised worldwide.
President Vidhya Lakhan President of Pacific Games told Radio NZ in 2017 that participation of New Zealand and Australia would ensure the event is recognised around the world.
“ Most of the countries have their own Continental Games,” Lakhan said.
“ We have the Pacific Games but it is not recognised as the Continental Games because two nations in our region are not allowed to take part.
“ So if we want the Continental Games recognition then Australia and New Zealand have to be part of the Pacific Games.”
But there were fears expressed at the time by some countries that if they became part of the Games they would dominate the event.
But Lakhan noted: “ They took part in four sports in Port Moresby and they did not dominate. We took medals off them. We beat them.”
Andrew Minogue the CEO of the Pacific Games Council reported as saying in 2018 by Radio New Zealand that Australia and New Zealand were invited to compete in the eight sports “ for the best interest of the Pacific athletes to help them develop and to help with their ability to qualify for the Olympics.”
The Games were initiated to promote and develop sport amongst the nations and peoples of the South Pacific. This is was very much in line with the first objective of the Pacific Games Council according to its charter:
“To create bonds of kindred friendship and brotherhood amongst people of countries of the Pacific region through sporting exchange without any distinctions as to race, religion or politics.”
The first Pacific Games formerly known as the South Pacific Games was held in 1963 at Suva Fiji. It is held every four years.
The 2019 Games in Samoa is the 16th Pacific Games.
The sports and their venues: Archery - Faleata Sports Fields; Athletics -Apia Park Stadium;Badminton – Multisport Centre Faleata Sports Complex; Basketball – Gymnasium 2 Faleata Sports Complex; Beach Volleyball- Beach Volleyball Courts Apia Waterfront; Boxing:-Don Bosco College Salelologa Savaii.
Cricket- Cricket Ovals Faleata Sports Complex. Football – Toleafoa Blatter Soccer Fields Faleata Sports Complex. Golf-Royal Samoa Golf Course Fagalii. Judo- gymnasium 1 Faleata Sports Complex. Lawn Bowls – Faleata Lawn Bowl Greens Falefata. Netball – multisport Complex, Faleata Sports Complex. Powerlifting – Gymnasium 1 Faleata Sports Complex . Rugby 7s – Apia Park Stadium. Rugby League 9s- Apia Park Stadium.
Sailing - Mulifanua. Shooting- Tafaigata Shooting Range Tafaigata. Squash – Samoa Squash Courts, Faleata Sports Complex. Swimming – Samoa Aquatic Centre , Faleata Sports Complex and Mulifanua. Table Tennis – Harvest Centre Lotopa. Taekwondo- Harvest Centre Lotopa. Tennis – Apia Park Tennis Courts. Touch Rugby – Faleata Sports Field Faleata Sports Complex. Triathlon – Sogi Recreational Park. Va’a – Mulifanua. Volleyball- National University of Samoa Gymnasium. Weightlifting- Gymnasium 1 Faleata Sports Complex.