14 Nov 2005

Queen's baton to be presented to Tonga's crown prince in regional relay

10:31 am on 14 November 2005

The Queen's Baton which will be used to light the torch at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games next year arrives in Tonga this morning.

The baton will be presented to the Crown Prince Tupouto'a during its stay in the kingdom.

The secretary of the Tonga National Olympic Committee, Po'oi Puloka, says it will only be the second time the baton has made its way to the kingdom, the first time being for the 2002 Manchester Games.

"The people here are familiar with similar events, like the Olympic torch came through here prior to the Sydney Olympics. The kids here are very enthusiastic about it, they are looking forward to running the baton. A major part of the relay here will be done by the primary schools."

The baton relay route takes it around the main island of Tongatapu.

Mr Puloka says former decathlete, Sanitesi Latu, bronze medallist at the 1975 world championships and South Pacific Games champion, will represent local athletes during the relay.

The baton is in Tonga until Thursday when it leaves for Solomon Islands.