The PNG Government has made good its promise at the last minute to boost Team PNG’s attendance at the 17th Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
With the games opening ceremony set for next Sunday (Nov 19), the PNG Olympic Committee had called on the Government to intervene as only five of the 20 participating sport had paid their levy fees.
After all the major fund raising efforts, Team PNG’s budget for the games still fell short by K5.3 million for the 515-member contingent of athletes and officials.
Prime Minister James Marape said treasury raised payment to support the Papua New Guinea Olympic Committee (PNGOC) which should be cleared this week.
“Last week, specific instructions were given to treasury to release the funding and the cheque was raised and should be cleared this week,” Marape said.
“Let me just say to the PNG contingent that you will not be disappointed and I wish you all the best in the upcoming games.”
Marape did not confirm the amount raised, however, the Government has committed K12.48 million through the Sports Ministry to support Team PNG.
Attempts to get confirmation from PNGOC regarding the funding were unsuccessful.
The PNGOC had extended the deadline for federations to pay their levy fees to Monday (Nov 6) or resort to reducing the size of the team, potentially dashing the hopes of dedicated athletes and reducing the nation’s medal chances.
With 11 days to go before the opening ceremony, Marape said Papua New Guinea would be sending the biggest contingent to Honiara.
Marape said he was invited by the Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to attend the opening ceremony as Papua New Guinea had helped to build one of the stadiums for the games.
“Also in terms of diplomacy, we normally can’t turn down such invitations,” Marape said.
“Solomon Islands is very close to Papua New Guinea and we are to them like what Australia is to us.”
“So it is only proper that we as a Melanesian brother stand with Solomon Islands as its hosts the 17th Pacific Games.
“So if the falcon jet is operational, I will make a quick shuttle to Solomon Islands and spend a few hours there to witness the opening of the games,” he said.
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