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More teams from outside region may be allowed to compete at Pacific Games

Members of the Pacific Games Council (PGC) will discuss the possibility of allowing additional teams from nations and territories outside of the region to take part in their flagship Pacific Games during a meeting in Vanuatu today.

The gathering of the PGC’s membership, due to be held as part of the Pacific Mini Games in Port Vila, will also debate the future bid process for their quadrennial competition following the withdrawal of Tonga as hosts of the 2019 event.

Samoa, which has stepped in to stage the 2019 Pacific Games, are scheduled to provide an update on their preparations at the meeting.

Officials from the PGC and the Samoan Government have continually warned that the country is up against it due to tight timelines having agreed to replace Tonga as hosts.

Australia and New Zealand competed at the Pacific Games for the first time at the 2015 edition in Port Moresby.

The two countries participated in taekwondo, sailing, rugby sevens and weightlifting in the Papua New Guinea capital and were granted the right to compete in additional sports at the 2019 Games.

They are set to take part in athletics, beach volleyball and judo in 2019, while New Zealand have been granted entry into the football tournament in Samoa.

There remain fears among some of the smaller countries who participate at the event that Australia and New Zealand will dominate the medals.

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“President Vidhya Lakhan would like members to start thinking of membership of the Council, associate membership and for other parts of Oceania and he’s determined that we not talking about Australia and New Zealand but other islands and territories around the Pacific that might wish to be involved in the Games,” PGC executive director Andrew Minogue said.

“I think a good example if you go to the World Sprints of Va’a, you have teams from Easter Islands, you have teams from Hawaii, so there are some sports that’s contested in our region that have other islands taking part and we want to see what the members think of having an inclusive approach.”

Action continued at the Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu today as Samoa claimed the coveted rugby sevens gold medal after beating Fiji 14-7.

Samoa led Fiji, who fielded a weakened side as the focus of their main team is on the World Rugby Series, 14-0 at the break.

Fiji rallied in the second half but were not able to claw back the deficit as Samoa held on for victory.

The bronze medal was sealed by Tonga, who defeated the Solomon Islands 24-19.

Aymeric Mara and Cyril Jacob delivered gold for the host nation by winning the men’s doubles tennis tournament.

Mara and Jacob overcame CJ Beg and William O’ Connell of Fiji 6-2, 6-2 to clinch the title.

Source: InsideTheGames By Liam Morgan