Now the real hard work begins

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

It’s a great week to be in Samoa. 

The vibes are positive and there is definitely plenty of excitement and anticipation in the air. With the nation welcoming regional and global leaders for the 48th Pacific Islands Forum Meeting, the fact it is happening simultaneously with the 27th Annual Teuila Festival, which officially opened last night, is an added bonus.

Who said you can’t have business and pleasure at the same time?  

Of course you can. Besides, this is beautiful Samoa, the place where island time was born. 

So make yourselves at home, chuck those shoes away, find some jandals and relax. And just in case your scheduled meeting doesn’t start on time, don’t be angry, it’s normal. 

One good thing about Apia is that it is slowly but surely becoming the hub of regional meetings and major events. This week’s crowd in Samoa is a typical example. But then we are used to it.

And it’s only bound to get better with the news that Samoa has won the bid to host the 2019 Pacific Games. With Tonga rejecting the opportunity to welcome the region in 2019, Samoa was quick to throw its name in the hat.

Last weekend, the news arrived that the bid had been successful.

 “The Executive Board of the Pacific Games Council (P.G.C) has unanimously approved the awarding of the hosting rights for the 2019 Pacific Games to the Pacific Games Association (P.G.A) of Samoa,” a statement from the Council read.

“The P.G.C warmly congratulates the P.G.A of Samoa on its selection as host for the 2019 Pacific Games and will assist them in every way possible in the short time available for preparations.

“The P.G.C also sincerely thanks the Prime Minister and the government of Samoa for its commitment to support the Samoa P.G.A and fully underwrite the cost of staging the 2019 Pacific Games.”

Speaking of commitments, Prime Minister Tuilaepa has been vocal and very open about his administration’s willingness to host the Games. The government immediately announced a financial backing of $20 million tala.

It went further and established an Executive Committee to prepare the country with Prime Minister Tuilaepa as Chairman. The Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti and the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, were brought on board joint Chairman.

With that sort of commitment and intent, it would have been very hard for the Pacific Games Council to say no.

 “The Executive Board assessed that the expression of interest lodged by Samoa was the only one that met all of the criteria, most notably the full financial commitment of the host Government including to provide the range of other support services required to stage such an event,” the Council said.

“This commitment was lacking in the expression of interest lodged by the Tahiti P.G.A and its candidacy was not explored further via a P.G.C evaluation visit.

“The expression of interest lodged by the Guam P.G.A was excellent and contained the support of the Governor. 

“However, an agreement between the Governor and the Guam Legislature for a budget appropriation to enable Pacific Games preparations to begin in the upcoming fiscal year could not be reached in the short timeframe available.”

Well that’s understandable.

It must be said that Prime Minister Tuilaepa is a very brave man though. Two years away from the Games, getting things ready is not a small task. Finances will obviously become a massive challenge.

But let’s not talk about that for now. 

Let’s rejoice in the fact we’ve won the bid.

P.G.C President, Vidhya Lakhan, is obviously relieved, knowing Samoa has a very proud history of hosting major events successfully.

“Samoa is an experienced and capable recent host of major events like the 2007 South Pacific Games and 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games,” he said. 

“The Executive Board has every confidence that Samoa will stage another very successful Pacific Games in 2019. 

“The sporting facilities are all in place and the full and financial support of the Samoan Prime Minister and government gave the Samoan P.G.A’s bid the winning edge. We all look forward to returning to Apia in 2019.”

Yes and we look forward to welcoming everyone in 2019.

That’s two years away. 

But now the real hard work begins. Let’s talk about the details another day.

Have a fabulous week Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

Developed by Samoa Observer in Apia