Cook Islands is bidding to host its third Pacific Mini Games, hoping to bring the regional sporting event back to Rarotonga after hosting it in 1985 and 2009.

Minister for Sports and Youth Vaine “Mac” Mokoroa has announced “with immense pride and enthusiasm” Cook Islands’ bid to host the 2029 Pacific Mini Games.

If successful, the Cook Islands will become the first country to host the event three times.

The country’s bid document has already been submitted. However, the official presentation of the bid will take place during the Pacific Games Council Meeting scheduled for November. The meeting will coincide with the Pacific Games being held in the Solomon Islands this year.

Mokoroa said they would be presenting a compelling case that “reflects the passion and dedication” of the nation to host the Pacific Mini Games.

“This bid signifies our unwavering commitment to showcasing our nation’s sporting potential and fostering unity within the Pacific region,” he told Cook Islands News.

“As Minister of Sports, I assure you that we are fully devoted to upgrading all venues to the highest standards, supported by pledges from esteemed organisations like World Aquatics and through FIFA as a result of the recent visit by FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

“Together, if selected as the host, we shall deliver an extraordinary event, celebrating athletic excellence and promoting cultural exchange, leaving an indelible legacy of inspiration for generations to come.”

Former Cook Islands sprinter Patricia Taea, who made her Pacific Mini Games debut in Rarotonga in 2009, welcomed the bid.

Taea, a regional games gold medallist, said hosting events such as the Mini Games would inspire the next generation of athletes.

“It will be a great opportunity for us in terms of development of our athletes. They will be able to see these professional athletes in action which will give them a fair idea of the level of fitness and skill one needs to compete at that level,” said Taea, who competed in the 100 metres, 200m and long jump events at the 2009 Mini Games.

“It was an awesome opportunity to compete in front of my own family. You don’t get chances like this because we don’t get to host big competitions. This will be an opportunity for our athletes to shine in front of their own supporters.

“I hope we win the bid; it will be great for the country.”

Leader of the Opposition, Tina Browne of the Democratic Party, also welcomed the bid.

Browne, who played a key role in securing Cook Islands’ bid to host the World Youth Netball Championships in 2009, said: “I am a firm believer in promoting sports and a bid from the Cook Islands to host the Mini Games will help our sport. I was also part of the organisation committee when we hosted the Pacific Mini Games many years ago.”

Minister Mokoroa said the Government is fully committed to supporting this bid “as we recognise the tremendous potential of hosting such a prestigious event, there is no greater opportune time for the government to indicate its interest and dedication”.

In doing so, he said they can strategically allocate budget support towards key facilities, particularly the National Stadium and National Sports Arena, “both of which are in need of attention”.

“Our government understands the significance of investing in these venues to ensure they meet the highest standards and serve as befitting showcases for the Pacific Mini Games. Through this commitment, we aim to create a lasting legacy of sporting excellence and infrastructure development, leaving an indelible mark on our nation’s sporting landscape for generations to come.”

Mokoroa said hosting regional events such as the Pacific Mini Games holds immense significance for the Cook Islands on multiple fronts.

“Firstly, there are crucial economic factors at play, as such events attract visitors, stimulate tourism, and boost local businesses, injecting much-needed revenue into our economy.

“Secondly, hosting these games fills our nation with immense pride, showcasing our hospitality, culture, and sporting excellence to the entire region. It provides a platform for us to demonstrate our capabilities as gracious hosts and ambassadors of the Pacific.

“Moreover, hosting regional events allows us to gain exposure on an international scale, creating opportunities for potential investors, partnerships, and collaborations that can further uplift our country.

“By promoting healthy lifestyles through sports, we encourage our citizens to lead active and fit lives, contributing to the overall well-being of our society. It is a powerful means of nurturing talent and enabling our elite sports personalities to compete at regional and global levels, bringing recognition to our nation and inspiring future generations.”

Mokoroa also said that the 20-year gap since the Cook Islands last hosted the Mini Games “presents a golden opportunity for us to refresh and renew our capabilities, ensuring we deliver an even more remarkable and memorable event”.

“Additionally, hosting the Pacific Mini Games allows us to invest in the upgrade and maintenance of our sports infrastructure, leaving a lasting legacy that will benefit our athletes and communities for years to come.

“Hosting regional events like the Pacific Mini Games is a pivotal endeavour that transcends mere sports competition, for it shapes the identity, aspirations, and prosperity of the country.”

According to Wikipedia, the Pacific Mini Games is a continental multi-sport event contested by countries and territories located in Oceania. The event has been held every four years since the inaugural games in Honiara, Solomon Islands in 1981.

It is called the “Mini” games because it is a scaled-down version of the main Pacific Games and is similarly rotated on a four-year basis in the intervening years between the main Games.