The Executive Board of the Pacific Games Council has approved a delay to the start of the 2023 Pacific Games from July, to 19 November to 2 December 2023.
The decision was prompted by a request from the Solomon Islands, and followed extensive consultations with the 22 Pacific Games Associations and the 24 Oceania Federations for the sports on the Games programme.
COVID-19 has caused inevitable delays to various venue construction and although it is expected to be completed by mid-2023, the organising committee wants time to test the venues and ensure they are fully operational for the games.
The initial four months allows contingency room for the construction process in the event of weather delays.
In his address, Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Hon. Manasseh Sogavare conveyed his pleasure at the acceptance of the date change.
“My sincere appreciation to the Executive Board of the Pacific Games Council, the Pacific Games Associations and Oceania Federations, on behalf of the nation and its Government for allowing the deferment.
“Let me convey to the Executive Board of the Pacific Games Council, and to the 22 member Pacific Games Associations and the 24 Oceania Federations for the sports on the Games program, the sincere appreciation of our nation and our government for the kindred spirit demonstrated by the members of our Pacific family to allow the deferment of the 2023 Pacific Games by four months.
“The reason for the request is simply that delays forced upon us as the host nation by the COVID-19 pandemic had undermined our ability to complete the construction of all the facilities we require to successfully host the games.”
The Prime Minister also took the time to emphasise the delay is not an opportunity to ease off on preparations.
“I want to emphasise that it must only serve as a fall-back and is not a license to extend the date for completing the construction programme beyond the current agreed delivery dates.
“Let me conclude by once again conveying to the Executive Board of the Pacific Games Council, and through the Executive Board to the 22 member Pacific Games Associations and the 24 Oceania Federations for the sports on the Games program our most sincere appreciation for your understanding on behalf of a grateful host nation and a grateful host government”.
Prime Minister Sogavare participated in the ground-breaking ceremony for the 2023 Pacific Games stadiums project in Honiara in May, with the venue expected to be a centrepiece of the first Pacific Games to be staged in the Solomon Islands.
An aquatics centre, a six-court tennis centre, an athletics track with a full-size football and rugby field, and a multi-purpose hall are also being built.
The Prime Minister said the sustainable venues will be used for grassroots and high-performance sport, as well as community events.