The Pacific Games Council says it’s keeping a closer watch on 2023 hosts Solomon Islands following Tonga’s withdrawal from staging the 2019 event.

The Kingdom was awarded the Games six years ago but pulled the plug in July, citing financial concerns, and was replaced by Samoa.

Tonga has never hosted the Pacific Games and Council Chief Executive Andrew Minogue says traditionally the four-yearly event is held in countries with previous experience.

“We’re going back to Samoa next year – I can tell you right now that Samoa if they had the Games next month they’d be ready to go. I mean the facilities are there, they’re good enough,” he said.

“They’re going to get refurbished but if they didn’t have any time even for that they’d be fine. When you’re going to places like Fiji, New Caledonia there’s a certain level of comfort there that these countries have hosted the Games before and have got facilities in place.”

Solomon Islands will become the seventh Pacific Games host in 2023 and Andrew Minogue says they’ve agreed a set of milestones that must be met in the months and years to come.

“They had the Mini Games in 1981, which was a very long time ago, and I think the experience with what happened with Tonga has necessitated us to be a bit more proactive around the timelines for 2023,” he said.

“It’s just good practice to do that, given that they do have to construct just about all the facilities from scratch.”

Earlier this month the Solomon Islands Government finally secured land to build a new national stadium, that will be used for the 2023 Games.

Andrew Minogue says confirming a site for the swimming competition to be held is the next major task.

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