PNG Olympics Site Questioned As New Sports Complex Unfinished

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Slow construction, shipping logistics issues raise concerns

By Wendy Katusele

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 3, 2012) – The country’s grass roots Olympics to be held in Kokopo, East New Britain this year is likely be moved to another venue if the sporting complex at Takubar is not ready on time.

That is the stand of the PNG Sports Foundation, the convener of the games. The Foundation has raised concerns that the sports complex is too slow in being built and says there is real possibility the Games date may be deferred or moved to other centers where sporting facilities are already in existence.

And coupled with that is the fact that the moving of sporting teams to East New Britain will be seriously set back by the withdrawal of shipping services by Rabaul Shipping.

Shipping was to play a pivotal role in moving the up to 10,000 athletes and sporting officials from around the country to Kokopo. With Rabaul Shipping closing operations after one of its passenger boats went down in heavy seas off Finchaffen earlier this year with a huge loss of lives, and the burning of two of its other vessels in Bougainville, the company that provided alternate cheap inter-provincial travel has had to close down.

PNG Sports Foundation executive director and PNG Games Council chairman Iamo Launa yesterday said deadline of facilities being completed was due three days ago (June 30).

The facilities that have to be built include the stadium to host athletics, cricket, soccer, softball, volleyball, netball, lawn tennis, rugby union, Aussie rules and basketball.

Mrs. Launa and her team are expected to visit the site next week before the PNG Games Council meets to decide the fate of the Kokopo venue.

"It is up to the PNG Games Council to decide whether we move the games or look at an alternate venue as the complex will house majority of the sports," Mrs. Launa said.

But host organizing committee chairman and former Prime Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu is confident of having the facilities built before the games start and was confident the main stadium would go up in the next eight weeks.

"We are confident of having the facilities in place before the games. Work has started on the grandstand which is expected to be erected by the end of this week," he said.

"My biggest challenge is transportation, getting people in and out of the province since most teams will be relying on shipping service.’’

Sir Rabbie said playing courts - two lawn tennis courts, two netball courts, two basketball courts, softball diamonds, soccer, Aussie rules, rugby union fields and a cricket ground would take two months to complete.

These were now all under construction, he said.

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