APIA, 19 JULY 2019 (INSIDE THE GAMES)—The Pacific Games Council (PGC) are hopeful an amicable resolution can be reached to the organisation’s dispute with the Tongan Government, related to the country’s withdrawal as hosts of the 2019 Pacific Games.
Tonga was named as hosts in 2012 but the Government pulled out in 2017, citing financial concerns.
A reopened bid process ultimately led to Samoa being selected as hosts, with the Games currently ongoing here.
The PGC and Tonga Association of Sport and National Olympic Committee (TASANOC) also launched a civil suit against the Government.
Both have been seeking millions of dollars’ worth of damages over breach of contract.
The PGC believe the “unilateral action” of the Government resulted in unpaid fees, the extra cost of the bidding process to find a replacement and brand damage.
The next step in the case will come in September, with the PGC set to return submissions to the court after it noted defects in their initial claim.
The defects relate to the registration of TASANOC and the PGC.
“Effectively the judge recognised TASANOC exists but in the host city contract it is the Tonga Pacific Games Association and whether they exist,” Pacific Games Council chief executive, Andre w Minogue told insidethegames.
“Naturally for us of course they do because it is the same body, but they wanted that addressed.
“We contracted with Tonga in 2012, we were the Pacific Games Council registered as a society in New Caledonia.
“In 2014 we changed to a limited liability company in the Cook Islands, so our name and registration status changed.
“He also looked at our claim for damages to the brand and felt that could not really be assessed until after the Games here in Samoa, which we understand.”
Minogue also revealed the PGC had encouraged their barrister to seek opportunities to settle the case with the Tongan Government.
This is expected to be assessed over the coming months, with Minogue expressing the view that an out of court settlement would be in everyone’s interest.
Tonga is one of six countries to have expressed an interest in staging the 2027 Pacific Games, despite their withdrawal as 2019 hosts.
While the case involving the Tongan Government remains ongoing, it was confirmed that Tahiti’s full membership of the PGC has been restored.
Tahiti was initially suspended in December when their Government boycotted the Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu.
There was a row between the PGC and the Tahiti Government over who should represent the country’s athletes.
It followed claims that competitors were being endorsed by rival federations, with two different boxing organisations recognised by the Government and the International Boxing Association (AIBA).
It ultimately led to athletes being forced to take part as neutrals at the Mini Games in Vanuatu.
The suspension was provisionally lifted last year to enable Tahiti to prepare for Samoa 2019, with the selection process overseen to prevent confrontation.
When the process concluded in April without incident, the PGC lifted the suspension fully.
“To formally lift the suspension we had to wait until April when the boxing team, which was the source of the dispute, was announced,” Minogue said.
“They still had two federations over there, one recognised by AIBA and one recognised by the Government.
“We said to them, with AIBA’s blessing, they could run a selection trial which would be neutral and supervised by AIBA.
“If they did that properly and picked the best athletes, we would lift the suspension.
“They did that in April and we immediately lifted the suspension, after receiving the report confirming it was run with the rules.
“We have put that behind us now.
“They are such an important member; they have hosted the Games twice.
“It really hurt them and it really hurt all of us that they were not in Vanuatu.
“You do not want your senior members not coming to the Games.
“We are very happy with where things are with them.”