Invoking the Olympic values of bringing people together during trying times, this week’s 2020 Cook Islands Games have turned the global spotlight on the Pacific Island nation.
The Games have been three months in the making and are organised by Cook Islands Sports and the National Olympic Committee (CISNOC) as a means of bringing the Cook Islands people together to celebrate sports and appreciate what they have, as one of the few COVID-free nations in the world.
CISNOC President, Hugh Graham: “We’re the only country in the world that is able to put on an event of this magnitude at this very point in time”.
Athletes have arrived in Rarotonga from Pukapuka/Nassau, Manihiki, Tongareva, Aitutaki, Atiu, Mitiaro, Mauke and Mangaia, with many Rarotonga-based athletes choosing to represent their outer-island origins.
“It’s been great to see, and for the people to recognise and acknowledge their other roots,” said CISNOC senior Vice-President, Romani Katoa.
The Cook Islands Games features 24 different events including traditional games such as Rore (stilt races, combating and single stilts), Peipei Tiporo/Poroiti (juggling) and Ko Akari (coconut husking relay).
Also featuring among the sports is football, with both men’s and women’s teams taking part in the week-long festivities.
The group stages of the football competitions have taken place throughout the week, with the nine men’s and women’s teams split into two pools.
In the men’s division, Pool B has already seen Atiu and Mangaia book their place in the semi-finals, with Pool A to be decided by the end of play this afternoon.
In the women’s division, Mitiaro has booked their place in the semi-finals following their two victories, with either Aitutaki or Mauke set to join them from Pool A. In Pool B Atui and Managaia will progress to the semi-finals.
Among the players taking part are senior Cook Islands representatives Mii Piri-Savage, current CIFA General Secretary and former FIFA referee Tupou Patia-Brogan, among many others.