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SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 14, 1999 - PACNEWS)---Preparations are progressing well for the opening of the South Pacific Games in Guam on May 29.

Games officials have been visiting the venue in the Guam capital, Hagatna, and have been very impressed with the Games Village and facilities for the two-week sporting event.

Brian Minnikin, an official of the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC), said the Games Village, a former Air force base, will provide excellent accommodations for athletes.

Pacific Islands Broadcasting Association’s Chief Executive Jese Sikivou has just returned from Guam on a trip funded by ONOC to inspect the Games media facilities.

He assured regional journalists the Media Center is equipped with high technology facilities and the journalists would be able to access results of the Games through the Internet, the first time ever in the Pacific region.

Guam’s South Pacific Games Committee Chairman, Clifford Guzman, said the SPG website is under construction. It will permit countries represented at the Games to access full results at home.

Ricardo Blas, Guam National Olympic Committee President, said, " Guam has the distinction of hosting, for the first time in its 36-year history, Games that will be an Olympic qualifier for selected sports.

"We have set a record for the number of athletes competing and the number of disciplines offered," he said.

However, four sports have been dropped -- cycling, soccer, surfing and power lifting -- and a number of countries have pulled out because of funding problems.

To date, 20 countries and about 3,000 athletes and officials have confirmed their participation, May 29 - June 12. The countries have until April 29 to formally identify the sports in which they will take part.

The Solomon Islands has announced it will send 157 athletes and sports officials.

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