“I hope that this is the last time Australia and New Zealand will participate in our games as our guests.
“Within the next 12 to 18 months we hope to make the necessary changes to our Constitution which will allow them membership to the Council,” said PGC president Vidya Lakhan.
Australia and New Zealand were first invited as guest and competed in four sports at the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
Here at the Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu the Trans-Tasman neighbours were invited for two sports, rugby 7s and weightlifting.
“We are also working closely with the Oceania National Olympic Committee (ONOC) and the Olympic Sports Federations of Oceania (OSFO) in realizing our vision of becoming the Continental Games of the Pacific.
“We are looking forward to the day when the Pacific Games will be recognized by the IOC, by the Commonwealth Games Federation, by the International Federations and by the Oceania Federations as the qualifying Games for the Commonwealth, the Olympic Games and indeed various World Championships,” Lakhan said.
This he said will only come about when all the countries and territories of the Pacific are members of the PGC.
Currently pacific athletes have to go to great lengths to qualify for major international meets.
“From a very humble beginning in 1963 when the first South Pacific Games was celebrated in Suva, Fiji, we have travelled a long way, sometimes turbulent road, to get to where we are today.
“Despite the successes of recent Games, and the promise of an excellent Games here in Vanuatu, there is still a fair way to go before we get to where we want to be.”
He said reforms put in place, particularly in the last ten years or so, has made the PGC that much more resilient, sustainable and vibrant.
“My Executive Board and indeed the Games Council as whole is committed to and shares the vision of making the Pacific Games the Continental Games of the Pacific.
“The name, the branding and the culture will remain the same, but the inclusive approach the Council is taking, will see us extending our reach to include others who are part and parcel of the Pacific, as members of the Games Council.”
Lakhan believes the inclusion of Australia and New Zealand will lift the standards of competition and help improve standards.
“This is what our athletes, who we are all here to serve, expect from us- to help them reach higher and higher levels in their sporting careers.
“The Fiji 7s gold medal success at the Rio Olympic Games shows anything is possible if we put our minds to it.”