The Executive Board of the Pacific Games Council is recommending to reduce the sports programs of both the Pacific Games and Mini Games.
From the 28 sports scheduled in the 2012 Pacific Games in New Caledonia, the board is proposing 26, while the Mini Games' size will be down to 12 from 15. The reduction was suggested due to financial concerns and dwindling participation of Pacific Games-member nations since 2003.
“The Pacific Games Council must stay ahead of the curve on this issue and fundamentally address the real risk of diminishing priority afforded to the Pacific Games by the athletes and national federations. The crowding of the international calendar by an ever-increasing array of competition platforms which are available to the athletes, especially Oceania zone Olympic qualifiers, plus the high cost of travel throughout the Pacific, heighten these risks considerably,” stated in one of the 36-page board recommendation.
“This was demonstrated at the 2011 Pacific Games in the team sports with numerous withdrawals by some Polynesian PGAs teams sports in order to focus resources on other international events. Combined with squad reductions and/or withdrawals in individual sports by almost all PGAs, this meant that NC2011 planned for hundreds of athletes who never traveled to Noumea,” the recommendation added.
With the proposed reduction, only 13 compulsory sports out of the 26 must be included in the calendar of events. Out of the 13, nine sports have already been identified: athletics, basketball, golf, rugby 7's (men's), swimming, table tennis, tennis, canoe racing, and weightlifting. These sports were selected based on their high participation rate during the 2007 Pacific Games in Samoa and last year's competition in New Caledonia.
Four former optional sports-boxing, taekwondo, judo, and women's rugby 7's-were recommended for inclusion on the compulsory list, while beach and indoor volleyball were combined to fill the No. 13 event. Football is demoted to optional from compulsory sport, while netball, bodybuilding, power lifting, and triathlon are placed on the “watch list” for consideration in the sports program review.
The proposed reduction of the Pacific Games if approve will be implemented after the 2015 event in Papua New Guinea, while the Mini Games' new calendar will take effect at the conclusion of the 2017 competition in Vanuatu.
The suggested reduction of both games and other changes in the Pacific Games Charter will be put to a vote during the PGAs general assembly in Wallis & Futuna on Oct. 18 and 19.