Here is Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s Speech:
Ministers of the Crown
Lord Mayor of Honiara City
Premier of Guadalcanal Province
Pastor Silent Tovosia
Chairman and Members of the National Hosting Authority
Chairman and Members of the PG2023 Cabinet Subcommittee
President and Members of the National Olympic Committee of Solomon Islands
Chairman and Members of the National Sports Council of Solomon Islands
Presidents and Representatives of all Sports Federations represented here
Chairlady and Members of the newly appointed Facilities Committee for the 2023 PG
Members of the Diplomatic Corps, and I recognize the presence of your excellencies:
- The High Commissioner of Australia
- The High Commissioner Papua New Guinea
- The High Commissioner of New Zealand
- The High Commissioner of the United Kingdom
- The Counsellor of the Peoples Republic of China
- The Charge’ de Affairs, Japanese Embassy
Permanent Secretaries and Senior Government Officials
Ladies and gentlemen, in exactly 1,089 days from today, the first activity of the 2023 Pacific Games will take place in our beautiful country.
The Official Opening Ceremony of the 17th Pacific Games is currently scheduled for 16 July 2023 and the Closing Ceremony is scheduled for 29 July 2023. However, following the Pacific Games tradition, the first competitive event will commence two days earlier on Friday 14th July 2023.
Today I am especially proud, as your Prime Minister and the Minister responsible for the successful delivery of the 2023 Pacific Games to welcome you all to the Blessing, the Commissioning, and the Official Opening of our very own office for the 2023 Pacific Games.
This office will be the home of the National Hosting Authority and its partners – the Games Organizing Committee, the Facilities Committee, the National Sports Council, and the Cabinet Subcommittee for the 2023 Pacific Games. Together they embody the theme – Many Partners and one Team’, for the Solomon Islands.
Together, they will not rest over the next 1,089 days to ensure all preparations are completed prior to the games. Most importantly, they will ensure our country will deliver the best Pacific games ever and, also ensure that we achieve the best-ever performance from our athletes to reach the highest-ever medals tally for our country.
These are the reasons, why:
- Three years out of the games, I have appointed the facilities Committee, chaired by the CEO of the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industries, to be supported by the Vice-Chairman who is also the Chairman of the National Sports Council and Chairman-to-be for the soon to be established a Sports Development Committee.
The composition of the Committee includes, a representative each from Private Sector represented by SICCI, the National Sports Council represented by the Chairman of the Council, the Solomon Islands Government, the Host City, the host province, State-Owned Enterprises (SOE – SIWA and SIEA), Solomon Islands Christian Association (SICA), National Olympic Committee of Solomon Islands (NOCSI) and the National Hosting Authority.
- Why the National Olympic Committee for the Solomon Islands (NOCSI) will together with my government, establish the Games Organizing Committee (GOC) within the next month to focus on aspects of the games we need to commence early.
- Why, my government is investing with support from our development partners to establish the Solomon Islands Nationals Institute of Sports (SINIS) that will host the Solomon Islands Sports Leadership Institute and High-Performance Centre to train our athletes over the next 3 years to a be competitive by the time the games is here.
- Why, I and my Australian Counterpart, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, agreed during his visit to the Solomon Islands last year that Australia will support my government’s preparation for the 17th Pacific Games with support to selected games facilities such as the SINIS, refurbishment of accommodation, classrooms, and common facilities in many of our schools in the capital to accommodate athletes during the games and training of elite athletes through the SINIS and abroad.
- Why I and His Excellency the President of Indonesia have agreed to invest in a new Multipurpose Futsal Stadium for the 2023 Pacific Games
- Why, I and His Excellency the President of the People’s Republic of China, have agreed to prioritize the 2023 Pacific Games as the first and most important priority to cement our newly established relationship.
Ladies and gentlemen, despite the setbacks posed by COVID-19, my government has continued to deliver in its preparation for the 2023 Pacific games.
3 years out from the games, I am happy to inform you all, that the National Hosting Authority has, with the support from my government consolidated and achieved the following outputs :
- The NHA has secured all the land and sites that are needed for all the new venues to be constructed on, and existing venues to be improved for the games. Existing venues include the HCC multi-purpose hall, Maranatha hall, Honiara Gold Club, and Lawson Tama, field.
- The NHA has secured almost 85% of the funding needed to construct new facilities to host the games.
- The NHA with agreement from my government has applied the funding provided by the Independent State of Papua New Guinea to finance the PG2023 Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) Academy, which comprises two full-size football fields, an outdoor futsal field, a beach soccer and volleyball field, a replacement office block, and a 50-bed hostel/dormitory.
- The NHA will be working closely with the Australian High Commissioner and his team to refine the areas that the Government of Australia will support my government in delivering a successful 2023 Pacific Games.
- The NHA has concluded consultations on the design of the Multi-Purpose Futsal Stadium worth USD$7.5 million with WIKA, the company appointed by the Indonesian government to construct the facility. Construction is anticipated to commence later this year with an expected completion date by December 2021. This will allow our national futsal team and other sports federations to have use of the facilities for at least 18 months before the games.
- The NHA has secured a landmark agreement with the Peoples Republic of China to fund facilities that will be worth well over US$100 million. This makes the People’s Republic of China (PRC) the largest contributor, so far for our country’s Pacific Games project.
I am very happy to inform you all that following a two and a half-hour video conference last Friday between the deputy Director-General of the Agency of International Economic Cooperation of the China Ministry of Commerce that is responsible for the 2023 Pacific Games Project, and the Chairman of the National Hosting Authority, I can advise you all that this project is the largest-ever development corporation project the PRC has undertaken in the Pacific Islands. I wish to thank his Excellency, Counsellor Yao Ming, for facilitating and hosting the video conference in his Embassy.
The Chinese government has appointed Central South Architect Design Institute (CSADI) to design and manage the delivery of the national stadium and six other sports facilities including the aquatic centre, the tennis courts, a training track and field, a multipurpose hall, a hockey field, and a 1,200 square meter administration complex.
The Central South Architect Design Institute has given us a glimpse of the theme underpinning their design which mimics sails and waves of the oceans – conveying huge significance to the uniting feature of Pacific islands – our ocean.
The Central South Architect Design Institute has shared the design concepts with NHA and the Facilities Committee. Full design consultations will take place during the visit by the PRC technical team next month following which tendering will occur with construction anticipated to commence by 1st May 2021.
I can also confirm that the PRC is committed to complete all the facilities they agree to finance and hand these over to the national Hosting Authority no later than by June 2023.
- It is my hope that the governments of New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Japan will also be able to assist my government in this particularly important human development project for my government.
- In particular, I am thinking that when all the sports facilities are completed in 2023, King George VI School will require a facelift to match the modern sporting facilities built by the Peoples Republic of China surrounding the school. I hope that the government of the United Kingdom will be able to assist with a facelift of the King George VI School.
Ladies and gentlemen, I also wish to update you on achievements that had been funded by my government through the NHA. These include:
- Clearance of Unexploded Ordinances [UXOs]. The NHA had completed UXO site clearance of the construction venues for the PRC, Indonesian, and SIG funded facilities. The contractors have found and removed WWII relics, live ammunitions, and 3 live bombs under the existing playing fields. The UXO clearance has been certified by an internationally recognized, certified, and accredited UXO clearance Agency, the Norwegian People’s Aid for construction, supported through funding from the United States of America.
- Construction of the Solomon Islands National Institute of Sports (SINIS) has started on the 25th of May 2020 and is scheduled to be completed by the end of December 2020.
- Geotech survey is being done on the land on which the multi-purpose futsal stadium will be constructed by the Government of Indonesia. The government is working to facilitate the entry of the Indonesian team to commence the construction work on this project.
- Reaching long-term settlement with farmers and settlers at the NSC land at KGVI – The National Hosting Authority and Cabinet Sub Committee has successfully negotiated a repatriation arrangement with 48 families who settled at the National Sports Council land to be used for PG 2023 facilities. In their remarks through NHA, the representatives of the farmers emphasized their support towards the government’s preparations for the 2023 Pacific Games as the key principle underpinning their agreement to the repatriation arrangement.
I thank the 48 families for agreeing to the solution for the 2023 Pacific Games. I commend the NHA, the Cabinet Subcommittee, the committee that worked with the farmers as well as the farmers and their families for this excellent outcome. This land has already been fenced and is ready for PG2023 work.
- Long-term home for all Sports Federations in the Solomon Islands – Apart from Football and Rugby, all other twenty-plus sports federations in the country do not have an office space or a dedicated training facility. This in part explains the poor performances of Solomon Islands teams to past regional games.
The NHA is actively discussing with partners the need to build a 2,000 square meters low-cost but durable office complex at the SINIS compound to be used by the near 2,000 volunteers during the games and to handed to the 20-plus sports federations after the games as a sports legacy for the country. For the first time, all sports federations will have office spaces and a dedicated training facility at the Solomon Islands National Institute of Sports. It is our hope that this building will be completed by mid-2022 at the latest.
In addition to supporting the Games Organising Committee, the Facilities Committee, and the Sports development Committee, the NHA is adopting a whole-of-government approach to establish a ‘government services committee’ comprising all government services including immigration, customs, IRD, health, police and security, culture and tourism, infrastructure, utilities, environment, lands, education, media, and communication, etc., as well as the host city and the host province to ensure we have a well-oiled machine operating well before the games.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 2023 Pacific Games are a catalyst to unite our nation through sports. We are targeting 40 gold medals at the 2023 Pacific Games. Our sportsmen and women must aim high and prepare to compete for every medal at the 2023 Pacific Games. We must increase our standing.
The 2023 Pacific Games are my government’s flagship project. It is a commitment to do everything we can to deliver a successful 2023 Pacific Games. To be able to do this, we ask the host city, and the host province to partner closely with my government to ensure the games, leave a lasting legacy in our country.
My government will look at our financing capacity within the constraint posed by the COVID-19 pandemic on our economy to ensure our commitment to the region and to the Pacific Games Council is steadfast and firm.
In this regard, I assure our key partners, the Pacific Games Council, and the national Olympic Committee of Solomon Islands that my government is committed to funding its share of the cost to host the games – the total operations costs of delivering a successful 2023 Pacific Games.
Now let me come back to the official opening of the ‘2023 Pacific Games Office of the National Hosting Authority and its Partners’
This Office is and will continue to be the Nerve-center for the successful delivery of the 2023 Pacific Games.
I take this opportunity to thank the Chairman and the members of the NHA Board and his Secretariat team for the excellent work the NHA, together with its partners, Pacific Games Council, the National Olympic Committee of Solomon Islands and National Sports Council of Solomon Islands have undertaken to take us to where we currently are today, 1,089 days from the 2023 Pacific Games.
I am comforted by the thought that compared to previous Pacific Games; we are ahead in our preparations 3 years out from the games at this point in time. However, we cannot be complacent. I do realize and accept that the biggest challenge is my government’s ability to live up to its financial commitment to fund the games.
I as the Minister responsible for delivering the successful 2023 Pacific Games and as the Prime Minister that has fought hard to bring the games to our country, commit to secure and allocate the funds agreed to by the government in a timely manner to ensure the NHA can deliver the games on time and on budget.
I once again thank all our partners that have joined my government on this journey, including the governments of the People’s Republic of China, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, New Zealand, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
Finally, ladies and gentlemen, I now have the honor and pleasure to declare the 2023 Pacific Games office of the National Hosting Authority and its partners officially open.
May God Bless our ongoing preparations for the 2023 Pacific Games
May God Bless Solomon Islands from Shore to Shore
Thank you for listening