NUKU'ALOFA, (RNZI) --- National sporting federations in Tonga still want the country to host the 2019 Pacific Games.
More than 40 delegates, representing 17 sports, attended a Special General Meeting of the Tonga Sports Associations and National Olympic Committee (TASANOC) Monday night in Haveluloto, to discuss the Government's decision to withdraw its support from hosting the Games because of financial concerns.
A copy of the letter from Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva to the Pacific Games Council, outlining the Government's decision, was circulated to members.
The Chairman and CEO of the Games Organising Committee, Lord Sevele, presented a statement and table of figures he said clarified the costs and income and expenses for capital and operational expenditures of hosting the Games, contradicting the Government's position that the event "would jeopardise the Tongan economy".
Lord Sevele also acknowledged the support of the former Minister of Finance, 'Aisake Eke.
Eke said funding was not an issue as the Government had already included allocations in the 2017/2018 budget, which were specifically aimed to support the preparation for the 2019 Pacific Games.
He said that meant the Government would not need to go into a loan or add extra duties or taxes.
The acting Chair, Lord Vaea, emphasised the importance of sports for Tongan athletes and the general public to keep them healthy and active, as well as part of the Government push for change in lifestyles and attitudes because of non-communicable diseases.
Lord Vaea said the Games were awarded to Tonga with faith and belief amongst the Pacific countries members that the Kingdom would do a good job and it was time for Tonga to host.
He said Tonga should honour its commitment to host the Games and hope to continue dialogue with Government to reconsider their decision.
Member federations asked Lord Vaea and Lord Sevele to continue dialogue with Government to resolve and re-consider their decision.
The Games Organising Committee also agreed at an emergency meeting last Friday that they want the Games to remain in Tonga.
They intend to seek a meeting with Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva and the Government to discuss this issue and hopefully come to a new decision.