HISTORY OF THE GAMES
Dr A.H. Sahu Khan - one of Fiji's representatives at a meeting of the South Pacific Commission held in Rabaul during 1959 - is credited with the idea of holding a multi-sport event for South Pacific nations. In 1961, a meeting of nine Territories (held in Nouméa) awarded Fiji the honour of hosting the very first ‘South Pacific Games’.
This South Pacific Games (later changed to Pacific Games) was held two years later in Suva, Fiji, 1963. New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Guam, Western Samoa and Papua New Guinea have also hosted the event, which is held every four years. These games mark Papua New Guinea’s third stint as host nation. Tonga is set to host the 2019 Pacific Games in Nukuʻalofa, Tongatapu.
A scaled-down version of the main Pacific Games is also held on a four-year basis, in the intervening years between the main games. Called the ‘Pacific Mini Games’, it is held to allow smaller nations in our region to host events, and compete against each other. Mini Games have been running since 1981.
Pacific Mini Games have been hosted by Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, Amercian Samoa, Norfolk Island, Palau, and Wallis and Futuna. Vanuatu is set to host the 2017 Pacific Mini Games. Marshall Islands will host the following event, in 2021.
FRIENDSHIP & WORLD-CLASS SPORT IN THE PACIFIC
The governing body of the event is the Pacific Games Council. According to the Council, The South Pacific Games were established:
"To create bonds of kindred, friendship, and brotherhood amongst people of the countries & territories of the Pacific Region through sporting exchanges between them without any distinction as to race, gender, religion or politics."
The Pacific Games Council's vision is to "promote a unique, friendly world-class competition and Games and to develop sport for the benefit of the people, the nations and the territories of the Pacific Community."
2015 PACIFIC GAMES OPENING CEREMONY
Almost 300 ceremony staff, and 3000 performers under the direction of Tania Nugent, Airleke Ingram and Nigel Jamieson, did a magnificent job of showcasing the multicultural beauty of the nation of Papua New Guinea. The opening ceremony was a celebration of the country's rich cultural history, blending into representations of the country's future direction. As Ms Nugent told Post Courier, the ceremony reflected the coming of age of Papua New Guinea.
Merryn Hughes, the opening night executive producer, said it might have been the largest sing-sing ever in Papua New Guinea - with 800-900 performers.
PACIFIC GAMES MASCOT: ‘TURA THE KOKOMO’
13 year old Taka Seigori, a Year 5 student from Tubuseria Primary School in the Central Province of Papua New Guinea, won the nation wide Pacific Games 2015 mascot design competition. The design had to be unique to Papua New Guinea, transcend all boundaries, and embody the spirit of the games – “fun, enthusiastic, friendly and community minded”.
Taka’s winning design, ‘Tura the Kokomo’, depicts a modern, cheeky and funny Hornbill - known in PNG as a ‘Kokomo’. The bird is known to possess the attributes of friendliness and cheekiness. Colours seen on the crown of ‘Tura the Kokomo’ are the colours of the 2015 Pacific Games. Congratulations again, Taka Seigori!
PACIFIC GAMES STAFF, VOLUNTEERS, & ATHLETE AMBASSADORS
The Games would not be possible without the thousands of Pacific Games 2015 staff and an army of generous volunteers. In addition, there are seven fantastic Ambassadors representing the 2015 Pacific Games:
Lois Garena (Volleyball), Isikel Tovia Jnr (Softball), Vavine Yore (Touch Football), Francis Kompaon (Para-Sports, Athletics), Alwin Komalong (Soccer), Kristine Seko (Golf), Winnie Mavara (Netball).
Find out more about them HERE.
2015 PACIFIC GAMES PARTICIPANTS
24 beautiful nations of the South Pacific region are participating in the 2015 Pacific Games:
American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia/Tahiti, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna.
Seeing all these national teams march during the Opening Ceremony was a treat. It is always incredible and moving to witness the diverse faces and cultural expressions of this stunning region - particularly when they come together in a shared, peacful space. Every nation's team greeted the home crowd in their own unique way.
This is the first time Australia and New Zealand are participating in the Games.
2015 PACIFIC GAMES SCHEDULE
You can see the Games schedule HERE.
Athletes are participating in 28 broad category events, being held at 9 main venues:
Athletics, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Bodybuilding, Boxing, Cricket, Golf, Hockey, Karate, Lawn Bowls, Netball, Powerlifting, Rugby Union 7s, Rugby League 9s, Sailing, Shooting, Soccer, Softball, Squash, Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, Touch Football, Triathlon, Va'a (Outrigger canoeing), Volleyball, Weightlifting.
Tickets for events can be purchased HERE.
COMPETITION AND FAIR PLAY
In accordance with The Pacific Games Council Charter, the final medal tally of the Games does not recognize a winner - competition and fair play is what it is all about.
Having said that, New Caledonia has dominated the medal tally in the 52 years of the Games’ existence - after the 2011 event, they had taken home a total of 1926 medals. Papua New Guinea currently leads the medal tally for the 2015 Pacific Games.
Follow the medal tally HERE.
Viewers in Australia can catch the Pacific Games 2015 on NITV. Check the network schedule for details.
WORDS by Pauline Vetuna.
Image 1 - 3: Opening Ceremony. (courtesy Team PNG)
Image 4: Triathalon. (courtesy Team PNG)
Image 5: Basketball. (courtesy Team PNG)
Image 6: Weightlifting. (courtesy Team PNG)
Image 7: Pacific Games 2015 Official Mascot. (courtesy Port Moresby 2015)