Lakhan calls for support from Pacific family

Gold medalist Robert Elder receives his gold medal from Vidya Lakhan after the archery competition at the Faleata Sports Field in Samoa. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU/FT FILE

THE Pacific Games Council president, Vidya Lakhan, is pondering on the implications of the official announcement by the International Olympic Committee in postponing the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic to the 2021 Pacific Mini Games.

“The decision by the International Olympic Committee to defer the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games to 2021 could very likely have some impact on the timing for the 2021 Northern Mariana Islands Pacific Mini Games.”

When quizzed on the appropriate strategies the Pacific Games Council has adopted to curtail clashes of dates, Lakhan said a plan has been drawn up.

“The Pacific Games Councils’ executive board is closely liasing with the games organisors in Saipan to ensure that there is no clash between the two events. The Pacific Games Council will firm up on the dates of the Pacific Mini Games once the International Olympic Committee announces the dates of the postponed 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Lakhan, who has been heading the Pacific Games Council since 2003, offered an advise to all the athletes in the Pacific region, on behalf of the Pacific Games Council in an effort to combat the COVID-19.

“Please strictly comply with all the instructions, requirements and restrictions put in place by the respective Government’s in the Pacific Region.”

Lakhan, who is also the Golf Fiji President, humbly pleaded with all the athletes, officials and the entire Pacific family to practise the basic health and hygiene requirements, as highlighted every day by the relevant health advisories, to stay safe from coronavirus.

“Social distancing, washing of hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and observance of the curfews put in place by the relevant authorities, especially in Fiji, is a must if we care for our personal health and the health of our loved ones. The Pacific Games Council calls on all our athletes, officials and the Pacific family to join hands with their respective governments and assist in bringing the deadly coronavirus under control.”

Meanwhile, two major events planned for the year by the Pacific Games Council has also been affected, as confided by the president.

“The Pacific Games Council’s executive board meeting that was scheduled to be held in Brisbane, Australia next month, has been postponed. The deadline for the submission of bids regarding the 2027 Pacific Games, of which Fiji is also a leading bidder, has been deferred. Once the coronavirus pandemic is brought under control and all the travel restrictions are uplifted, the Pacific Games Council will announce new time lines.”

The 11th edition of the four yearly Pacific Mini Games is scheduled to be held in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, albeit a shorter version with only six sports to be competed for, being athletics, badminton, baseball, beach volleyball, golf and triathlon. New Caledonia is the defending champion while Fiji came third, behind Papua New Guinea, at the 2017 Pacific Mini Games, that was held in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

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