NUKU’ALOFA, (MATANGI TONGA) – Within three or four months, the Papua New Guinea government should be able to inform the Tongan government of what it could do to help Tonga with its preparations to host the 2019 Pacific Games, Justin Tkatchenko, the Papua New Guinea Minister for National Events, Sports and Tourism told the Tongan Media at the Scenic Hotel, Fua’amotu.
The Minister headed a delegation of government officials and private sector; including architects and private investors who arrived in Tonga Friday for four days, until Tuesday, 02 February.
Tkatchenko said their visit was a response of his government to a visit by the Tongan Prime Minister, ‘Akilisi Pohiva and a delegation to PNG about two weeks ago. The Tongan delegation was seeking to understand what a country would need to be able to host a Pacific Games since Tonga will host the next Pacific Games in 2019.
“Our Prime Minister Hon Peter O’Neill and Papua New Guinea has made a commitment, and that is why we are here at this time. Our trip is to ascertain where Tonga is, with their preparations and establish the particular areas where we can assist with.
Three years is suitable enough time to prepare, compared to the amount of time Papua New Guinea had to prepare for the 2015 Games, and we want to be able to help start immediately,” Tkatchenko said.
He said that that the PNG delegation had come to Tonga to assess Tonga’s sports facilities and prepare a report to be presented to their Prime Minister. After that they should be able inform the Tongan government of what they could do to assist with their preparations for the 2019 Pacific Games.
He stressed that they would like to let Tonga know what the government of Papua New Guinea could do for Tonga before the end of the year.
Tkatchenko said that they would like to help Tonga with the upgrading of its National Stadium as a stadium is the ‘Crown Jewel’ of the Pacific Games, “that is where you are going to have your opening and closing ceremonies, your track and field events.” The PNG Prime Minister wanted to get involved in fixing up Tonga’s Teufaiva Stadium.
He said that they could also help in the High Performance Division. He said that they could send their experts in their High Performance Division to work with their Tongan counterparts “to identify those you would like to take themselves to the next level and would like to come to PNG to study and advance their performance.”
He said that PNG has one of the best High Performance Centre in the region, and they have accommodation for 250 athletes. “It is the home of excellence for sports in PNG.”
Tkatchenko said that he became PNG’s Minister for Sports and for the 2015 Pacific Games in 2012, and he had roughly about two years to get things ready for the 2015 Pacific Games.
He said that the three most important things that a country must have to successfully a Pacific Games are: “time, money and sustainable facilities”.
“Every day is golden, every day is important when it comes to the development of the Pacific Games…We are here to support your minister, your Prime Minister and your people to have a successful games in 2019,” said Tkatchenko.
Vakata while welcoming his counterpart and the delegation to Nuku’alofa, added that current close dialogue between both countries over the past year in relation to Tonga’s preparations had granted the Government great confidence.
“PNG’s commitment to ongoing dialogue has granted Tonga great confidence, in that we are not alone in our road to deliver our Games.
We acknowledge that it will not be an easy three years ahead, but we are at ease knowing that PNG is right beside us. PNG delivered a remarkable and amazing 2015 Games, additionally besides the world class facilities in two years, and we are thankful that we will have that experience close by,” Vakata said.
Tkatchenko was accompanied by Deputy Secretary Prime Minister’s Office Trevor Meauri, PNGSF CEO Peter Tsiamalili Jr and the Deputy Secretary Works Department and Chief Engineer into Nuku’alofa.
The team are in Nuku’alofa for initial meetings with regard to planning and infrastructure that started yesterday.