PGC considers legal action as Tonga confirms Pacific Games exit

The Pacific Games Council (PGC) plans on taking legal action against the Tongan government after the country today (Wednesday) confirmed that it would not be hosting the 2019 edition of the Pacific Games multi-sport event.

The PGC received a letter from the Tongan government last month expressing the country’s wish to withdraw its hosting rights, citing financial concerns.

The PGC labelled the withdrawal as a “confusing decision” but made a final effort to ensure the Games remained in Tonga by granting a one-month window for local organisers to demonstrate they could still host the event. The window was due to expire on June 30.

However, Tonga’s Prime Minister, ‘Akillisi Pōhiva, today said the decision to withdraw will not be reversed. Pōhiva has refused to provide financial backing to the event and talks between the Prime Minister and PGC officials did not result in a compromise being reached.

As such, the PGC has said it will look to sue the government for what it views as a breach of an agreement signed when hosting rights were awarded in 2012.

According to Australian broadcaster ABC, PGC chief executive Andrew Minogue said the month-long window will remain open should Pōhiva change his mind. However, Minogue also reportedly said that Tonga could face a “substantial” legal bill after the deadline has passed for reneging on the initial agreement.

Pōhiva has said the government is seeking to focus its resources on more important areas of economic development, adding that sport was not an urgent priority.