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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 5) – The chairman of the South Pacific Games committee says completion dates for most of the venues for the August games [to be held in Apia, Samoa] is well ahead of schedule.

The region’s biggest sporting event has attracted a record 6,000 registrations, although this will be reduced once the number of participating athletes for the 33 [categories] has been decided.

Chair, Vaeolenofoafia Vui Tapasu Leung Wai, says however there is still one venue to be completed.

"I must be honest with you that the only venue we are trying to complete is the lawn bowling, but we have a specialist from New Zealand who is growing the grass and he’s saying definitely this will be ready before the opening ceremony."

Papua New Guinea, Tahiti, New Caledonia, Fiji and Samoa are fielding the largest teams with numbers reaching over 300.

But the Northern Marianas are pinning their medal hopes on just eight athletes.

They will compete in athletics, beach volleyball, and lawn tennis after most of the sports federations pulled out or decided not to send any team due to the high cost of airfares and lack of funds.

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