DISAPPOINTMENT AS NEW CALEDONIA'S BID REJECTED FOR 2007 SOUTH PACIFIC GAMES

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NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (December 10, 2001 - Oceania Flash/SPC)---The weekend announcement that the South Pacific Games Council preferred Samoa to New Caledonia to host the 2007 South Pacific Games (SPG) was received with disappointment, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reported on Monday.

The French Pacific territory’s highest authorities, including President Pierre Frogier, who had flown to Norfolk (where the South Pacific Mini-Games are currently under way, as well as the SPC Council), had backed the bid.

Frogier had addressed the Council on Sunday in a last ditch to persuade SPG officials to choose New Caledonia.

But Council chairman Ricardo Blas, a few moments later, announced that the winner of a secret ballot was Samoa.

Out of the 41 votes cast, Samoa received 25. New Caledonia received 16 votes.

Kanak woman leader in charge of youth and sports, Déwé Gorodey, Kanak French Senate member Simon Loueckhote and half a dozen other New Caledonia officials were also in Norfolk to support the territory's bid.

Among points made by New Caledonia were the strengths of "a French town located in the heart of the Pacific", "a bridge between Europe and Oceania", or, as Louekhote underlined, that fact that New Caledonia "has great infrastructure to welcome big international sporting events."

New Caledonia hosted the South Pacific Games twice, in 1966 and 1987.

"This is a huge disappointment. Of course, we knew this was not going to be easy because there was an Anglo-Saxon front against French-speaking territories," New Caledonia's Olympic and Sports Committee (CTOS) chairman, Eric Gay, said.

"Our bid was very strong. But we didn't win. However, we have nothing to be ashamed of. We did our best. . . The countries of the region have made their choice and this doesn't mean we will boycott the SPG in 200. As always we'll be there to win. And, as I confirmed to the Samoa Olympic committee chairman, we are willing to help them to make these games a success, because the main thing is that the youths of the Pacific must have a place where they can get together."

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