Tahiti absence 'damaging' to Mini Games brand - PGC

The Pacific Games Council says Tahiti's absence from the Mini Games in Vanuatu has damaged the brand of the Games.

The French Polynesian government announced in October it would boycott the event, which concluded in Port Vila Friday night, because of a dispute over which boxers should represent Tahiti.

Athletes from boxing and rugby sevens agreed to attend the Mini Games under a neutral flag, in defiance of the government's position, however the rugby team never made it to Vanuatu.

The CEO of the Pacific Games Council, Andrew Minogue, said Tahiti's absence had a significant effect on the Mini Games.

"They are a senior member of the Council. They have always had a large, successful delegation of athletes, which are not being displayed here."

"In addition to that the host country has gone to a lot of expense to put these Games on and a lot of forward planning and contracts go into effect based on expected numbers of athletes and officials and teams...that's part of the reason why this boycott has been so damaging to the brand of the Games but also the hosts here in Vanuatu," he said.

Tahiti was suspended by the Pacific Games Council's General Assembly last weekend, due to what it deemed "political interference" from the French Polynesian Government.

Mr Minogue said the territory's Olympic Committee held new elections a fortnight ago which seem to have been conducted properly, in accordance with the due process.

"What we need to do is make sure that new group understands their responsibilities to govern independently of the views of their government and we also need the assurance from the government that they will let that new group operate the Olympic Committee on the independent basis. I think when we get to that point they'll be back in," he said.


Photo caption: French Polynesia's assembly in session