GUAM CONFIRMS IT WILL HOST MAY SOUTH PACIFIC GAMES

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (January 20, 1999 - PACNEWS)---This year's South Pacific Games (SPG) will go ahead as scheduled in Guam in May.

The South Pacific Games Council President, Sir John Dawanicura, and Secretary Vidya Lakhan issued the confirmation after discussions with the government of Guam last week.

They made the week-long trip to Guam to clear uncertainties about whether the U.S. territory would be able to host the games, in the face of mounting financial pressures on the government following a dramatic economic downturn this year because of the Asian economic crisis.

At a news conference in Suva today, the SPG officials said Guam's Governor, Carl T. C. Gutierrez, has confirmed a commitment of US$ 1.5 million towards the games. The Guam government is still looking for another US $ 2.5 million, with the SPG also promising to help in arranging for the necessary funding.

Because of the earlier uncertainty, the SPG Council was considering three options -- to hold the games on a smaller scale, postpone them to December, or cancel the event.

Sir John said, following the guarantee of the government's commitment, that the Council decided the games will be held at full scale. Currently, about 5,000 athletes and officials from 22 countries are expected to participate in 26 sports at the games.

Lakhan said he was surprised by the amount of preparatory work the Guam organizing committee has already completed. "Excellent" is how he described the games village location -- a military residential compound that will be handed over to the organizing committee next month.

Sir John emphasized however, that Guam still has a lot of work to do in terms of putting the final touches to the infrastructure, and finalizing the organization and logistics of the games. He said they have told the organizing committee that they must consult the international federation representatives to ensure that all standard international requirements are met.

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