Pacific Games

For the former games between countries of the Pacific Rim, see Pacific Ocean Games.
Pacific Games
Abbreviation PAG
First event 1963
Occur every 4 years
Headquarters Suva, Fiji
President Vidhya Lakhan
Website Official website

The Pacific Games (formerly known as the South Pacific Games) is a multi-sport event, much like the Olympic Games (albeit on a much smaller scale), with participation exclusively from countries around the South Pacific Ocean. It is held every four years and began in 1963, hosted by Suva, Fiji.



The idea of holding the South Pacific Games originated with Dr A.H. Sahu Khan who was one of Fiji's representatives at a meeting of the South Pacific Commission held at Rabaul during 1959. The idea was adopted and led to a meeting of nine Territories, held in Nouméa during March 1961, which awarded Fiji the honour of hosting the very first Games.[1]


During 1962, the South Pacific Commission founded the South Pacific Games Council, with the first ever Games being held at Suva, Fiji. In the 40 years since, Games have been held in 12 countries and territories within the region. Initially the Games were held at three-year intervals although this was subsequently expanded to four following the Tumon Games in Guam.

As a residual consequence of the European colonisation of the Pacific from the early part of the 18th Century onwards, many nations who participated in the first Games (of 1963) were under predominantly British or French territorial rule. Understandably this generated a certain amount of confusion as both British and French flags and national anthems dominated proceedings and were occasionally used together for winning countries.
Western Samoa (now Samoa) was the only country with a flag and anthem of its sovereignty as it was the only participating independent island nation at that time. As time went on, fledgling nations gradually achieving sovereignty of their own sought to extricate themselves from their colonial past and new national anthems and flags emerged. Nevertheless, English and French remain the official languages of the Games.[2]

Like other sporting events, the South Pacific Games has experienced slight controversies. A minor dispute that still continues today is the scheduling of events landing on a Sunday. Throughout the Pacific, the Christian Sabbath remains very important (sporting events or similar activity are illegal in Tonga for example) and scheduling at such a time would be frowned upon. The events themselves have also been affected by religious sensitivities, notably beach volleyball where the official uniform of bikinis for women has been forced to give way to more conservative attire.[3] However other larger nations within the region or those loosely associated with more secular states (e.g. Cook Islands (New Zealand), American Samoa (United States), and French Polynesia (France)) are more moderate in this regard.

Other global and regional events have also influenced and shaped the Games' history. In 1995, the year Papeete, Tahiti hosted the Games, many countries took the decision to boycott as a direct protest at French nuclear testing in the Pacific.[4] The Games, however, returned to near full regional participation in the following event in 1999, held on Guam.

The first objective of the Pacific Games Council, according to its Charter,[5] is

"To create bonds of kindred friendship and brotherhood amongst people of the countries of the Pacific region through sporting exchange without any distinctions as to race, religion or politics."

The Games were initiated to promote and develop sport amongst the nations and peoples of the South Pacific.[1] After fifty years in existence, The South Pacific Commission changed its name to the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in 1998.[1]

Modern day games

The XII South Pacific Games held in Suva, Fiji saw for the first time the introduction of a full program of 32 sports.[6] That program included sports that are synonymous with the Pacific region as well as sports that have a limited participation and are generally not well established.

A strong corporate sponsorship package a first for the games enabled the organizers to work with a free hand towards their aims of making the games a success. A colorful and effective media and publicity campaign generated much interest and enthusiasm among the public in Fiji. Schools and youth groups were involved in interactive programs such as the adopt-a-country program also a first for the games.[7]

The XIII Pacific Games were hosted in Apia, Samoa. They were the 13th to have been held since 1963. In contrast to the Olympic Games which are expected to generate income for the host nation,[8] the 2007 Pacific Games were expected to leave Samoa US$92million in debt, predominantly as a result of expenditure on large-scale infrastructure projects such as bridges and roads.[9]

Potential debt positions notwithstanding, five nations (Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga and American Samoa) bid for the 2015 Pacific Games. The Games were ultimately awarded to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea and follow the 2011 Pacific Games held in Nouméa, New Caledonia. However the rising cost (purportedly in excess of $1 billion) and the logistical burden of putting on the games continue to threaten countries' abilities to host the event.[10]

Pacific Games Council

The games governing body is the Pacific Games Council. The Games council flag is presented to the host nation of the next games at the end of every games. With expansion and economic growth in the Pacific and Oceania countries of the Pacific Islands it was now appropriate for the South Pacific Games Council to modernise and revise its charter in light of these changes in the region and the changing place of Sport in our society, thus the council adapted a new charter in 2007.

The current President of the Council is Vidhya Lakhan from Fiji.

Member associations

Membership of the Council includes internationally recognised National Multisport Organisations within countries and territories who are members of the Pacific Community.[5] There are currently 22 members.[11] Pitcairn Island is the only Pacific Community member that is not member of the Pacific Council, whereas Norfolk Island is admitted as member of the Pacific Games Council although not a member of the Pacific Community.

15 members are also member associations of the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC).[11] Since 2015 games Australia and New Zealand participates in Pacific Games.

In July 2014, the Oceania National Olympic Committees announced their members had voted to allow Australia and New Zealand to participate in four sports, on a provisional basis, in the 2015 Pacific Games. The risk of seeing the two wealthy, developed nations dominate the competition had previously prevented their inclusion. They would be allowed to send participants only in rugby sevens, sailing, taekwondo and weightlifting - sports where other Pacific countries had proved sufficiently competitive against them in the past.[12]

 American Samoa American Samoa National Olympic Committee (ASNOC)
 Cook Islands Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee (CISNOC)
 Federated States of Micronesia Federated States of Micronesia National Olympic Committee (FSMNOC)
 Fiji Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC)
 Guam Guam National Olympic Committee (GNOC)
 Kiribati Kiribati National Olympic Committee (KNOC)
 Marshall Islands Marshall Islands National Olympic Committee (MINOC)
 Nauru Nauru Olympic Committee
New Caledonia Le Comité Territorial Olympique et Sportif de Nouvelle-Calédonie (CTOS)
 Niue Niue Island Sports and Commonwealth Games Association (NISCGA)
 Norfolk Island Norfolk Island Amateur Sports & Commonwealth Games Association
 Northern Mariana Islands Northern Marianas Amateur Sports Association
 Palau Palau National Olympic Committee (PNOC)
 Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea Sports Federation & National Olympic Committee (PNGSFOC)
 Samoa Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (SASNOC)
 Solomon Islands Solomon Islands National Olympic Committee (NOCSI)
 Tahiti Comité Olympique de Tahiti Nui (COPF)
 Tokelau Tokelau Sports Federation
 Tonga Tonga Sports Association and National Olympic Committee (TASANOC)
 Tuvalu Tuvalu Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (TASNOC)
 Vanuatu Vanuatu Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (VASANOC)
 Wallis and Futuna Comité Territorial Olympique et Sportif des Iles Wallis et Futuna (CTOSWF)

South Pacific Games locations

Year Games Host City Host Nation Dates Athletes Nations Sports Top Medalling
1963 I Suva  Fiji 29 August – 8 September 646 13 10  Fiji
1966 II Nouméa  New Caledonia 8–18 December 1200 14 12  New Caledonia
1969 III Port Moresby Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea 13–23 August 1150 12 15  New Caledonia
1971 IV Papeete  French Polynesia 25 August – 5 September 2000 14 17  New Caledonia
1975 V Tumon  Guam 1–10 August 1205 13 16  New Caledonia
1979 VI Suva  Fiji 28 August – 8 September 2672 19 18  New Caledonia
1983 VII Apia  Western Samoa 5–16 September 2500 19 14  New Caledonia
1987 VIII Nouméa  New Caledonia 8–20 December 1650 12 18  New Caledonia
1991 IX Port Moresby  Papua New Guinea 7–21 September 2000 16 17  Papua New Guinea
1995 X Papeete French Polynesia/ French Polynesia 25 August – 5 September 2000 12 25  New Caledonia
1999 XI Santa Rita  Guam 29 May – 12 June  3000+ 21 22  New Caledonia
2003 XII Suva  Fiji 28 June – 12 July 5000 22 32  New Caledonia
2007 XIII Apia  Samoa 25 August – 8 September 5000 22 33 / New Caledonia
2011 XIV Nouméa  New Caledonia 27 August – 10 September 4300 22 28  New Caledonia
2015 XV Port Moresby[13]  Papua New Guinea 4–18 July 3700 24 28  Papua New Guinea
2019 XVI Nukuʻalofa[14]  Tonga
2023 XVII Honiara[15]  Solomon Islands

Pacific Mini Games

Since 1981 the region has also run the Pacific Mini Games (previously the South Pacific Mini Games) to enable smaller nations to host events and compete against each other. Also a multi-sport event, it is a scaled-down version of the main Pacific Games and is similarly rotated on a four-year basis in the intervening years between the main games.

The following cities and nations have hosted (or will host) the Pacific Mini Games:

Year Games Host City Host Nation Dates Athletes Nations Sports Top Medalling
1981 I Honiara  Solomon Islands 7–19 July 600 15 5  New Caledonia
1985 II Rarotonga  Cook Islands 31 July - 9 August 700 15 6  Papua New Guinea
1989 III Nukuʻalofa  Tonga 22 August - 1 September 832 16 6  Western Samoa
1993 IV Port Vila  Vanuatu 9–16 December 15 6  Fiji
1997 V Pago Pago  American Samoa 11–22 August 1798 19 11  Nauru
2001 VI Kingston  Norfolk Island 3–14 December 18 10  Fiji
2005 VII Koror  Palau 25 July - 4 August 20 12  New Caledonia
2009 VIII Rarotonga  Cook Islands 21 September - 2 October 21 15  Fiji
2013 IX Mata-Utu Wallis and Futuna/ Wallis and Futuna 2 – 12 September 22 8  Tahiti
2017 X Port Vila[16]  Vanuatu
2021 XI Majuro  Marshall Islands

As with the main games, the cost of providing the necessary facilities and infrastructure is a concern to the region's smaller nations. In preparation for the 2009 Games in Rarotonga, despite having hosted the games previously, the local government considered diverting funds from a highway project, and secured a loan for US$10 million from the Chinese government to finance the building of a stadium.[17][18]


There are 37 sports approved by the Pacific Games Council, as at July 2014.[19] The 2019 Pacific Games shall consist of a maximum 26 sports, of which those listed below in bold are compulsory.

Former sports include rugby 15s (replaced by rugby 7s), rugby league 7s (replaced by rugby league 9s) and underwater fishing (last contested in 1999).


^* Denotes an optional sport that has not so far featured at any Pacific Games.

^† Football for men must be included on the programme. The optional addition of football for women does not increase the total number of sports. For the first time in 2007, the Pacific Games formed part of the qualification for the FIFA World Cup.[20]

^‡ Touch rugby is an optional sport but men's, women's and mixed tournaments must be included if touch rugby is selected.

Volleyball and beach volleyball disciplines have been listed as one sport for the purposes of the Games programme, since some time after the bids for the XV Games (in conjunction with the maximum number of sports being reduced from 28 to 26 for the XVI Games).[21][22]

  Open competition; non-gender specific.

Women's competition only.

Men's competition only.

All-time medal tallies

Pacific Games

Officially the final medal tally of the Games does not recognize a winner, regarding competition and fair play more highly.[7]

Australia and New Zealand were included in the all-time medal count for the first time after the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The table below includes all Games from 1963 to 2015.

Pacific Games medal count
Pos Country Total
1 New Caledonia 838 673 585 2096
2 French Polynesia/ French Polynesia 485 413 438 1336
3 Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea 432 399 404 1235
4 Fiji Fiji 419 506 430 1355
5 Samoa Samoa (includes Western Samoa) 184 152 157 493
6 Nauru Nauru 81 51 30 162
7 Guam Guam 62 91 122 275
8 Tonga Tonga 45 55 82 182
9 American Samoa American Samoa 44 43 74 161
10 Cook Islands Cook Islands 25 43 56 124
11 Wallis and Futuna Wallis and Futuna 23 36 76 135
12 Solomon Islands Solomon Islands 17 48 87 152
13 Australia Australia 16 19 11 46
14 Federated States of Micronesia Federated States of Micronesia 16 16 11 43
15 Vanuatu Vanuatu (includes New Hebrides) 14 41 65 120
16 Palau Palau 9 14 10 33
17 Norfolk Island Norfolk Island 5 13 17 35
18 Kiribati Kiribati (includes Gilbert) 5 11 20 36
19 Northern Mariana Islands Northern Mariana Islands 4 12 12 28
20 Tokelau Tokelau 3 2 1 6
21 New Zealand New Zealand 1 9 10 20
22 Tuvalu Tuvalu (includes Ellice) 1 1 4 6
23 Marshall Islands Marshall Islands - 3 11 14
24 Niue Niue - 2 7 9

Pacific Mini Games

Pacific Mini Games medal count
Pos Country Total
1 New Caledonia 190 152 111 453
2  Fiji 157 134 138 429
3  French Polynesia 129 94 84 307
4  Papua New Guinea 116 129 122 367
5  Samoa 105 59 73 237
6  Nauru 65 14 16 95
7  Cook Islands 34 44 44 122
8  American Samoa 27 32 21 80
9  Tonga 25 38 60 123
10  Vanuatu 18 23 32 73
11  Solomon Islands 16 45 41 102
12  Kiribati 16 6 12 34
13  Guam 9 13 22 44
14  Palau 9 11 7 27
15  F.S. Micronesia 9 6 5 20
16 Wallis and Futuna Wallis and Futuna 7 21 23 53
17  Norfolk Island 7 17 12 36
18  Northern Mariana Islands 4 12 8 24
19  Niue 2 14 7 23
20  Marshall Islands 2 6 0 8
21  Tuvalu 1 2 9 12
22  Tokelau 0 2 0 2

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "History". Pacific Games Council Official Website. 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  2. Charter 2007, p. 6.
  3. Bikinis out, Shorts in at Beach Volleyball Pacific Radio News - Niue FM, 29 August 2007
  4. French tests: Opposition grows, article summarising the response to French nuclear testing in the Pacific from World Information Service on Energy retrieved 19 February 2007
  5. 1 2 Charter 2007, p. 4.
  6. Archived May 4, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. 1 2 2003 Twelfth South Pacific Games, Suva, Fiji
  8. Article by CBRE regarding increase to gross domestic product and real estate values as a result of the 2004 Athens Olympics
  9. "Games puts Samoa in debt". ABC Radio Australia. 2007-09-03. Retrieved 2007-09-03.
  10. Paligaru, Clement. "PNG risks losing right to host 2015 Pacific Games". ABC: Radio Australia. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  11. 1 2 "Pacific Games Council - DIRECTORY 2013" (PDF 0.4 MB). Pacific Games Council. 2013. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
  12. "Aussies, Kiwis join Pacific Games: IOC pushes for Oceania to have a true continental games", Pacific Sunday News, 20 July 2014
  13. PNG2015 - Papua New Guinea Wins, published by the Pacific Games Council, on 2009-10-08. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  14. "Tonga to host 2019 Pacific Games", Matangi Tong, 19 October 2012
  15. "Solomon Islands awarded 2023 Pacific Games", Inside the Games, 11 May 2016
  16. "CNMI loses Micro Games bid", Saipan Tribune, 30 December 2011
  17. Stadium and China loan on hold Cook Islands News Online, 12 September 2007
  18. "Stadium for Mini Games in Cooks gets go-ahead". Radio New Zealand. 11 March 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-03-11.
  19. Charter 2014, p. 16–17.
  20. "OFC 2010 FIFA World Cup route via Asia". Oceania Football Confederation. 7 December 2006. Archived from the original on 28 April 2007. Retrieved 20 December 2006.
  21. PGC 2010, pp. 15–16.
  22. PGC 2012, pp. 15–16.


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