GUAM PREPARES FOR SOUTH PACIFIC GAMES OPENING

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HAGÅTÑA, Guam (May 26, 1999 - PACNEWS)---As teams from competing nations arrive for the 11th South Pacific Games in Guam, officials are having a few problems with transportation and registrations.

So far, eight of the 21 countries participating have arrived.

The Fiji contingent is the largest with just over 300 athletes and officials.

The countries that have settled in the games village at the former Anderson Airforce base are Samoa, Tonga, Niue, the Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Federation States of Micronesia.

With just two days left before the official opening of the Games, organizers are bracing themselves for another 2,000 athletes still to arrive in the country.

The Fiji contingent, which arrived Tuesday evening, was delayed at the airport for nearly two hours as officials tried to resolve transportation problems.

The mini South Pacific Games in American Samoa saw the emergence of a new power, Nauru, which topped the gold medal tally at 23.

Officially, there will be 21 countries competing in 22 sports at the Guam SPG.

There will be one new event, sevens rugby.

The French territories of New Caledonia and French Polynesia dominated the last Games, held in Tahiti, winning twice as many gold medals as the other countries. New Caledonia took home 82 gold medals and French Polynesia 76. Fiji placed third with 32 gold medals.

With the inclusion of new countries, the 11th SPG should be a good build up for island nations planning to take part in next year’s Sydney Olympic Games.

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