PORT MORESBY, ( POST COURIER) – Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has praised organisers and teams for the most outstanding Pacific Games in history, and said while the road to Games was not easy it was a very good decision.
“We thanked the best athletes of our region for their outstanding performances over two weeks of competition,” PM O’Neill said in a statement.
“We saw the best of our athletes and Papua New Guinea won our home games.
“People around the nation are filled with pride and a heightened sense of national unity.
“In the 40th anniversary of our country as a state, the outcome of the Games is a wonderful achievement.
“I congratulate our super-fish, Ryan Pini as the best male athlete of the Games.
“Eighty-eight gold medals and 217 medals overall is outstanding.
“Forever our country will remember these past two weeks for their heroics, for the outpouring of national passion and for the strengthening of bonds with 23 other countries in our region.
“Thank you, Papua New Guinea, for getting behind our Games.”
Upon reflection, the Prime Minister said proceeding with the hosting of the Games was one of the toughest decisions the new Government had to make when it came to office in 2012. “When we formed Government we were faced with an enormous challenge when it came to the Pacific Games,” the Prime Minister said.
“Papua New Guinea had earlier agreed to host the Pacific Games, but there had been no planning to get us to July 2015. There were no usable facilities and no budget identified to build or refurbish existing facilities.
“The months earlier had been lost to political challenges, but with a clear mandate at the election we now had the chance to properly govern and to make plans for our country.
“I was given the options by our officials and there was a simple decision that had to be made.
“We had to either proceed and spend millions of Kina on developments in a very short period of time, or to quit and walk away.”
Meanwhile, PNG Opposition Leader Don Polye has said Papua New Guinea’s medal tally in the Pacific Games is a show of athletes’ true sportsmanship and does not reflect the Government’s “cash for medal” incentive.
He credited the PNG athletes for their display of true sportsmanship and praised their efforts in the Pacific Games.
Polye said PNG’s lead in the overall medal tally demonstrates the true spirit of sportsmanship by our athletes and not because of the financial incentive offered by the government.
PNG claimed an overall total of 87 gold medals, 69 silver and 60 bronze, comfortably ahead of New Caledonia and Tahiti on 55 and 38 gold respectively.
He said the O’Neill Government must not mislead the country that our athletes have done well because of promises of financial incentives and construction of modern sporting infrastructures in the city.
“The Government must not see the medal tally and claim that this is reflective of its incentives,” Mr Polye said.
He said the Government in fact failed to develop sports and again jumped on the bandwagon poisoning the minds of the athletes with its concept of “cash for medals”.
Polye challenged the Government to do real development of sports through a bottom-up development program where school children are engaged in sports.