Government would welcome losing 2019 Games if PGC supports Lord Sevele

Tonga’s Chief Secretary and Secretary to Cabinet Dr Palenitina Langaʻoi has told the Pacific Games Council the kingdom would welcome being dropped as host of the 2019 Games

Dr Langa’oi’s comments came in a strongly worded letter, which has been seen by Kaniva News. It was sent in response to a warning by the Chair of the Pacific Games Council that Tonga could lose the competition if it sacked Lord Sevele-‘O-Vailahi as chair of the kingdom’s Games Organising Committee.

The letter said the government would stand by its decision to dismiss Lord Sevele.

It was dated May 20, just a week before the government removed him from his position.

Now the Tongan Government has told the Pacific Games Council it would stop financially supporting the Games Organising Committee if it continues to endorse Lord Sevele as committee chair.

Dr Langaʻoi said the government would welcome a decision  to cancel Tonga as the host of the next Games.

“The government of Tonga is prepared to withdraw all of its funding and support towards the operations of the OC should the matter at hand remain unresolved,” she said.

“The government of Tonga welcomes the PGC to withdraw the Pacific Games of 2019 from Tonga if you insist on your own unwarranted terms and conditions.”

Today the President of the Pacific Games Council, Vidhya Lakhan, hit back and told the Tongan government its move to terminate Lord Sevele’s office was “null and void.”

He said the power to terminate or appoint members of Tonga’s organising committee rested with the kingdom’s national sporting body, TASANOC and the Pacific Games Committee, not the government.

However, the Tongan government has defended its actions, saying it had acted in the best interests of the country. It said the government was bound by the Tonga Pacific Games Organisation Act of 2013, along with TASANOC and the Pacific Games Committee.

Last week the Tongan government demanded the Pacific Organising Committee’s Chairman Lord Sevele vacate his office on Friday, May 27 by 4.30pm.

The government also announced it had appointed Tonga’s Solicitor General Sione Sisifā as the Interim CEO and Chairman of the Organising Committee (OC) until further notice.

In a press release issued last Friday, May 27, the government said its decision to remove Lord Sevele was based on a significant downgrading of his role since the Government Facilities Committee took over most of the committee’s duties.

It said that as a sovereign state Tonga would not submit to the Pacific Games Committee when it came to deciding who to employ to facilitate the successful implementation of the Games.

Radio Australia quoted Lord Sevele this evening as saying the games belonged to Tonga and not its government.

The main points

  • Tonga’s Chief Secretary and Secretary to Cabinet Dr Palenitina Langaʻoi has told the Pacific Games Council it would welcome being dropped as host of the 2019 Games
  • Dr Langaʻoi’s comments came in a strongly worded letter, which was sent in response to a warning by the Chair of the Pacific Games Council that Tonga could lose the competition if it sacked Lord Sevele-‘o-Vailahi as chair of the kingdom’s Games Organising Committee.
  • Last week the Tongan government demanded the Pacific Organising Committee’s Chairman Lord Sevele-‘O-Vailahi vacate his office on May 27.
  • It said Tonga would not submit to the Pacific Games Committee on who to employ.

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