Decision to abandon Games was “bizarre” says Lord Vaea

Lord Vaea has described the Tongan government’s decision to cancel the 2019 Pacific Games as “bizarre.”

Lord Vaea was instrumental in bringing the Games to Tonga when he was the Minister of Internal Affairs and Sports.

He was part of the bid team led by Prince Ata to Wallis and Futuna in 2012.

“The cabinet does not have power to stop it,” Lord Vaea told Kaniva News today.

“I believe it is important for Tonga to still host the Games.

“The various reasons given for the withdrawal were very unusual.

“Why did they stop it and at the same time still build the stadium?”

The government has defended its decision, saying attempts to raise the money necessary to fund preparations for the Games had been an enormous challenge.

A government statement said it was concerned that hosting the Games would jeopardize the Tongan economy and derail Tonga’s macroeconomic stability and its ability to deliver its national priorities.

While the Government would not host the Games, it remained committed to strengthening the kingdom’s sporting infrastructure and development.

The statement said Tonga would continue to work with donor partners and the people of Tonga to contribute to the success of the 2019 Pacific Games.

Prime Minister ‘Akilisa Pohiva told Radio New Zealand the decision to not host the 2019 Games was a blow that could not be averted.

“It may look embarrassing but as far as Tonga is concerned, the economic and financial situation of the country at the moment, there is no other option but to cancel the sports,” Hon. Pohiva said.

“We are being forced by circumstance, by financial and economic circumstance of the day, to do the right thing and the right thing is to cancel.”