Aus, NZ will make Pacific Games stronger - PGC

The Pacific Games Council says including Australia and New Zealand is part of a long-term objective to strengthen the Pacific Games.

The Trans-Tasman neighbours were invited to take part in four sports at the 2015 Games in Port Moresby, increasing to eight for the 2019 edition in Samoa.

Australia and New Zealand make their Mini Games debut in Port Vila this week in weightlifting, having declined to enter teams in rugby sevens.

The President of the Pacific Games Council, Vidhya Lakhan, said the participation of Australia and New Zealand would ensure the event is recognised around the world.

"Most of the continents have their own Continental Games," Lakhan said.

"We have the Pacific Games but it is not recognised as the Continental Games because two nations in our region are not allowed to take part.

"So if we want the Continental Games recognition then Australia and New Zealand have to be a part of the Pacific Games," he said.

Some countries have expressed fears that if the two regional sporting giants became part of the Games they would dominate the event and take most of the medals.

But Vidhya Lakhan argued Pacific nations had already proved themselves competitive.

"They took part in four sports in Port Moresby and they did not dominate. We took medals off them, we beat them," he said.

"Same thing will happen here [in Vanuatu] in the next two weeks and going forward that's what will happen, so taking these small steps to convince our membership that having Australia and New Zealand is good for us, it raises the bar in terms of presentation, the quality of our own competition."

Lakhan said the Council's Executive Board believed, in time, Australia and New Zealand will become a regular part of the Pacific Games.

"So at the moment they are coming by invitation and we are hoping that in the next 12 to 18 months we will make some changes to our constitution which will grant them some level of membership, be it associate or whatever, of the Games Council."


Photo caption: President of the Pacific Games Council, Vidhya Lakhan