PM O’Neill Tells PNG Athletes To Win At Pacific Games

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PM O’Neill Tells PNG Athletes To Win At Pacific Games PNG to host in 2015, but facilities yet to be renovated

By Firmin Nanol

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, June 17, 2013) – Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill says he wants his country to win more medals when it hosts the 15th Pacific Games in 2015.

He says just hosting the games is not good enough and athletes who are selected to compete in all the sports should strive to win.

"We have to make sure that we win the [gold medals]." Mr. O'Neill said.

"There's no point in building all this infrastructure and not [winning] gold."

But there is some doubt as to whether PNG will deliver on its games promises.

It is more than three years since PNG won the bid to host the 2015 Pacific Games in the capital Port Moresby, but no major work to build new sports facilities or renovate existing infrastructure has taken place.

The government says it will ensure the facilities and athletes accommodation are being built and ready in time.

It had announced a AU$9 million [US$8.6 million] funding towards the preparation for the games in its annual national budget in 2011.

Some ground work has started with the clearing of a site for the aquatic centre to host the swimming competitions and the athlete's accommodation at the University of PNG's Waigani campus.

Last year, the Games Organizing Committee's, technical committee had announced it was finalizing all the details for the other works on the sports facilities like the Sir John Guise and Hubert Murray Stadiums including the cricket and netball grounds.

Commonwealth aspirations

Despite the lack of visible progress Mr. O'Neill says the games preparations are on track.

"We are making very strong progress towards the preparations for these Pacific Games," he said.

"We believe it will be the best games ever... we are doing this so that we can try and have a bid for the Commonwealth Games in the future."

With just two years to go before the games start from the 4th-18 July 2015, there is more work apart from hosting the games.

Different sporting codes are preparing to seek, train and prepare their athletes with one thing in mind, to win gold.

O'Neill last week presented over AU$7 million [US$6.7 million] towards sports in the country.

He says much of the funding will be distributed amongst the many codes to train athletes in preparation for the games.

PNG's Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko says the funds will be spent right down at the grass roots level to seek talents and to prepare them for the games.

He says the PNG government and the Sports Ministry is working towards hosting a memorable and well organized 2015 Pacific Games.

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