BY PETER ZOLEVEKE II
THE Leader of Opposition and Member of Parliament for Aoke/Langalanga, Honorable Matthew Wale has called on the national government to reconsider hosting the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara.
The Leader of Opposition made the comments during his debate speech in Parliament on Tuesday 7th April, during the motion to extend the country’s State of Emergency.
Hon. Wale suggested that the government should start considering postponing the Pacific Games 2023, as the country takes preventive cautionary measures to stand against the spreading COVID-19.
Mr. Wale further stressed that donor funded projects, especially for the infrastructure for the games, may not be feasible as it involves mobility and labour.
“Some preemptive planning must now commence to consider postponement of the games,” Hon. Wale told Parliament.
“It is important to note that the spread of the coronavirus from China to other countries followed Chinese workers returning to those countries to work. We must learn from that experience.
Mr. Wale further cautioned that the country’s national security and public health safety cannot be compromised even for the games.
“The Pacific games construction project may be affected by this, if it will require Chinese workers. Government must not take the risk of importing covid-19 through foreign workers,” he added.
On the same note, Minister of Finance & Treasury, Harry Kuma also stated that the country’s restriction measures will also delay donor support in terms of Sol2023 facilities project.
“The restraint measures against COVID-19 are likely to dampen domestic consumption and delay donor supported infrastructure projects such as Tina Hydro and the 2023 Pacific Games facilities,” Mr Kuma said.
The government’s Sol2023 National Hosting Authority recently also admitted the COVID-19 Pandemic is undoubtedly a drawback on the PG2023 preparations.
Despite the Opposition Leaders call to consider postponing the regional sporting event, Pacific Games Council Chief Executive Officer Mr Andrew Minogue, last month told SunSPORTS, Solomon Islands will have enough time for preparations to host the 2023 Pacific Games.
Mr. Minogue who met with the Sol2023 NHA Executive last month revealed they are working on forming a Games Organizing Committee that will be completed in the coming months.
“While work on forming the committee is on progress, progress on the constructions of facilities for the games, on the other hand, is likely to be delayed with most countries around the world imposing international travel bans to “infected countries”.
“COVID-19 will undoubtedly slow things down, but at this point there is time to manage those things because if eventually it will slow down before 2023,” Minogue said.