FASANOC President Joseph Rodan has claimed Fiji could step in to host the Pacific Games

Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC) President Joseph Rodan has raised the possibility the country could step in to host the 2019 Pacific Games should Tonga be unable to stage the event.

Tongan Prime Minister ʻAkilisi Pōhiva cast doubt on their ability to host the event earlier this month, when he warned a number of construction projects for the Games are unlikely to meet their deadlines.

He reportedly told Parliament that a piece of land to build an 18-hole golf course had not yet been found, before warning it would then take four years to get the facility ready.

Pōhiva claimed renovation work at the Teufaiva Sport Stadium in the country’s capital Nukuʻalofa and the building of new facilities at the Tonga High School would not be completed by May 2017 as had been promised.

Pacific Games Council (PGC) President Vidhya Lakhan has reiterated his support for Tonga to host the Games but FASANOC’s President has suggested they could be in a position to step in.

"We have not heard anything official from Tonga and from Pacific Games Council so we cannot comment on it unless we hear from the PGC," he told the Fiji Times.

"We need to get the approval from the Government and once then we can start thinking about organising it.

"We have all the facilities here, it will involve a lot of funds in organising it.

"Before we commit to it we need the approval from the Government.

"If it is approved then we have to work in partnership with the Government, I cannot say we can do it although we have all the facilities in Fiji."

Doubts have been raised over whether Tonga will remain hosts of the Games ©Getty Images
Doubts have been raised over whether Tonga will remain hosts of the Games ©Getty Images

Pōhiva and Tonga 2019 led by former Prime Minister Feleti Sevele have continually clashed in recent months, with their ongoing row overshadowing preparations for the Games.

Sevele rubbished the suggestions made by Pōhiva and told him to stop interfering with the Games.

The Tonga 2019 chief blamed officials for the delay in the rebuilding of the 10,000-capacity Teufaiva Sport Stadium, claiming they had promised to start work in March but nothing had yet been done.

Sevele, a former Prime Minister of Tonga, was sacked by the Government in May but the PGC claimed they did not have the authority to make such a change.

According to the PGC’s Constitution, only the Organising Committee, the Tonga Sports Association and National Olympic Committee, the PGC’s member in the country, and the PGC itself have the power to hire and fire people within Tonga 2019.

Pōhiva had insisted in June that they would continue the search for a replacement chairman.

This came amid a threat from the PGC that they would strip Tonga of the event if the furore continued.

Sevele remains the chairman of Tonga 2019.

PGC President Vidhya Lakhan has claimed they are not looking for a potential replacement host due to the existing contract with Tonga.

Pacific Games Council President Vidhya Lakhan, centre, has continued to back Tonga as the host nation ©PGC
Pacific Games Council President Vidhya Lakhan, centre, has continued to back Tonga as the host nation ©PGC

"It is not for any prime minister to say where the Games to be held and if Tonga cannot host the Games then they have to write to the Pacific Games Council rather than talking to the media," he told the Fiji Times.

"We have a contract with Tonga since they bid for the Games and it was awarded to them by the Pacific Games General Assembly.

"If they want to opt out of the contract then they urgently need to write to Pacific Games Council giving their reasons wanting to opt out of the contract.

"Once they say that they cannot host then the council will decide where to host the Games

"We have been in contact with the Tongan Olympic Committee, Organising Committee and number of Government Ministries and Parliamentarians and they had all said they could and want to host the Games."