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Tonga one of six hopefuls to stage 2027 Pacific Games despite withdrawing as 2019 hosts
11:28 pm GMT+12, 15/07/2019, Samoa

Tonga are one of six nations and territories to have expressed an interest in hosting the 2027 Pacific Games, despite pulling out of staging this year's event.
 
American Samoa, Fiji, Guam, Tahiti and Vanuatu have also lodged their interest with the Pacific Games Council (PGC).
 
The declaration of interest from Tonga is one of the most eye-catching of the potential contenders.
 
The kingdom was awarded the 2019 Pacific Games back in 2012, having seen off competition from Tahiti.
 
Tonga's Government withdrew from hosting the Games in 2017, citing financial concerns as the motive for the decision.
 
It led to the PGC reopening the bid process and selecting Samoa as replacement hosts in December 2017.
 
The PGC and the Tonga Association of Sport and National Olympic Committee ultimately launched a civil lawsuit against the Tongan Government and sought damages for breach of contract, unpaid fees, the extra cost of the bidding process to find a replacement and brand damage.
 
Tonga will hope to host the Games for the first time should they be awarded the 2027 edition, having also bid unsuccessfully for the 2015 event.
 
They are one of two nations to have participated at every edition of the Pacific Games but are yet to host the multi-sport event.
 
The other, Vanuatu, will hope their staging of the 2017 Pacific Mini Games stands them in good stead to be named as hosts.
 
Organisers revealed last year that a budget surplus of $700,000 (£527,000/€602,000) had been achieved for the Games, which saw 2,000 athletes compete across 14 sports.
 
Vanuatu bid for the 2015 edition of the Pacific Games, but were beaten by Papua New Guinea's capital city Port Moresby.
 
American Samoa also bid for the 2015 event, having lost the 2011 bid race to New Caledonia.
 
They had also hoped to secure the right to stage the 2025 Pacific Mini Games, but saw their bid deemed non-compliant by the PGC last year.
 
A reopened bid process saw American Samoa again lodge a bid, but a lack of Government guarantees led to the event being awarded to Palau yesterday.
 
Fiji, Guam and Tahiti have all hosted the Pacific Games on multiple occasions previously.
 
Fiji will be seeking to host the Games for a record fourth time, with the country currently sharing the record with New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea and, now, Samoa.
 
The inaugural Pacific Games were held at Suva in Fiji in 1963, before they returned to the capital city in 1979.
 
Fiji's most recent hosting of the event came in 2003, when Suva also welcomed athletes from across the region.
 
Guam have held the Games on two occasions, first doing so in 1975 when Tumon served as the host city.
 
Santa Rita was the location for the 1999 Games.
 
Tahiti are also two-time hosts, with Papeete the venue for the 1971 and 1999 Pacific Games.
 
The French overseas territory previously lodged an unsuccessful bid for the 2023 event, where they were beaten by the Solomon Islands.
 
Guam and Tahiti were both contenders for the 2019 Pacific Games after the bid process was reopened after Tonga's withdrawal.
 
Tahiti ultimately pulled out of contention due to a lack of Government support, while Samoa was ultimately selected over Guam.
 
Tahiti last year saw a suspension from the PGC lifted, which enabled them to compete here at Samoa 2019.
 
The suspension was introduced after the PGC deemed that the French Polynesian Government had interfered in the autonomy and independence of sporting associations.
 
However, the Tahiti Government sent a letter in June last year to the Tahiti Nui Pacific Games Association, saying they recognise its independence, which remedied that issue.
 
There was a row between the PGC and the Tahiti Government over who should represent the country's athletes, following claims that competitors were being endorsed by rival federations.
 
It ultimately led to athletes being forced to take part as neutrals at the Mini Games in Vanuatu.
 
A formal bid process is now set to take place, following the expressions of interest.
 
A decision is expected to made at the PGC General Assembly next year, giving the chosen host the standard seven-year preparation period.

SOURCE: INSIDE THE GAMES/PACNEWS


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