Pacific Games Council Prepares To Take Tonga To Court Over Withdrawal

PGC President says contract requires Tonga to pay regardless of whether or not they host 2019 Games

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, June 8, 2017) – The first contest in the Tonga Pacific Games 2019 could be a legal clash between the Tongan Government and the Pacific Games Council.

The President of the Pacific Games Council PGC, Vidhya Lakhan told a Press Conference yesterday afternoon 7 June, “that the games is not going to happen in Tonga.”

Following Tuesday afternoon's meeting between Vidhya Lakhan, Andrew Minogue, PGC Executive Director, PM Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva and two of his Cabinet Ministers, Hon. Vuna Fa’otusia Hon. Pohiva Tu’I’onetoa, they were told by the PM that the Pacific Games was not a priority for Tonga and that cabinet had decided for Tonga to withdraw from hosting the 2019 Pacific Games.

During a short dialogue that lasted less than half an hour, Vidhya said they informed the PM that their decision left the Council with no other option but to look at the Tonga 2019 Pacific Games Host Contract that was signed on 19 October 2012.

[PIR editor's note: On June 8, 2017 RNZI reported that 'The head of Tonga's amateur and Olympic committee, Lord Vaea, is putting his final hopes of the country hosting the 2019 Pacific Games in a petition to the King. ... Lord Vaea said Mr Pohiva never gave the council a chance to offer its assistance and alternative options.']

He said that the Tonga government had closed the door because for them sports is not a priority. “But we are keeping a window open.”

"The Executive Board of the Pacific Games Council felt that we should give Tonga and its people a chance to rethink the Cabinet’s decision."

Andrew pointed out that the Host Contract that Tonga signed in 2012 is a binding contract. He said that for Tonga not honouring that contract is a bad signal not just to the Pacific sports family that we represent but internationally, “the Tongan Government does not honour its words when it is signing an agreement. It is an unhappy situation for us reporting it to you today.”

Vidhya pointed out that under the contract, Tonga will underwrite the cost of the 2019 game. “So if we go to Samoa, you (Tonga) will still pay for the games.”

However, Andrew said that the Council has an obligation, “First and foremost is to protect our brand, our products, image and any damage to our reputation and any outstanding financial obligations. We will be pursuing those with legal means and importantly for us is for the games to go ahead in 2019. If not here, we have to find a home for the games. Already one or two countries are interested in standing in. The ball is in Tonga’s court now, until the end of the month.”

Matangi Tonga Magazine
Copyright © 2017 Matangi Tonga. All Rights Reserved

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