Officials confident Pacific Games venues will be ready
Despite challenges, organisers of the 2015 Pacific Games remain adamant the event will be ready in time for the opening ceremony in July.
Officials remain confident Port Moresby will be ready when the Pacific Games kicks off in just over four months time.
Contractors are working around the clock to complete venues and accommodation in time for the July games, which at one point were two years behind schedule.
Vinnie Wylie reports.
Papua New Guinea were awarded the hosting rights in 2009 but delays early in the process saw construction and planning fall well behind. The Pacific Games Council visited Port Moresby earlier this month and was pleased with the developments since their last check in November. The Council's Executive Director, Andrew Minogue, says while the final lick of paint may be not applied on all the venues, they will be suitable for competition.
ANDREW MINOGUE: What we saw was further considerable improvement in getting the venues ready. At this point it looks like they will all be done on the 31st of May, which will give the organising committee a month before the Games to sort of get into the venues and bump in their overlays and various things [like] technology and we should be right for the Games starting in early July.
The chair of the Games Organising Committee, Emma Waiwai, says the main objective over the coming months is to ensure all the venues are completed and handed over to organisers.
EMMA WAIWAI: We've actually achieved all our milestones. There is certain things that we needed to achieve and to date we have achieved them all so I am very confident the Games Organising Committee will make sure that whatever we prepare for the two weeks of competition that everything will be ready. I think it's exciting [and] nervous at the same time that the Games are really close. We're also determined that they're going to be the best Games [and] the biggest Games the Pacific has ever seen so I think the nights are getting shorter for me these days.
A report at the end of last year highlighted major concerns about progress at the Games Village, the Taurama Aquatic and Indoor Complex, the Sir John Guise Indoor and Outdoor Complex and the Rita Flynn Courts. But PNG's Sports and Pacific Games minister, Justin Tkatchenko, says the outlook has improved in the past two months.
JUSTIN TKATCHENKO: The Games Village has got 30 building - that is nearing completion now, I am proud to say, as is the aquatic centre and the outdoor stadium. I can sleep well knowing that those two venues are definitely going to be ready for the Games. The Hubert Murray Stadium will have stage one finished for the Games but, at the end of the day, all these facilites will have everything ready for our athletes, who have the Pacific Games Organising Committee set up and ready to roll out on July fourth.
Meanwhile the addition of Australia and New Zealand to the Games programme looks set to tip athlete numbers past the 3,000 mark. The Trans-Tasman neighbours accepted an invitation to enter teams in taekwondo, weightlifting, sailing and rugby sevens in Port Moresby, in the first step towards an expanded Continental Games.
2,700 athletes competed in New Caledonia four years ago and Andrew Minogue says adding Australia and New Zealand to the mix, plus an extra sport, means a bigger turnout is on the cards. The Pacific Games open on July the fourth.
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