Sols 2023 hoping to begin construction soon

The construction of venues for the 2023 Pacific Games in Solomon Islands is on track to begin next year.

Honiara won the hosting bid in 2016 but only secured land to build the new main stadium early last year.

Clint Flood is a senior advisor to the 2023 Pacific Games National Hosting Authority, which is being run out of the Prime Minister's Office.

He said the main focus right now is addressing the lack of sporting facilities currently in Honiara.

"We're sitting here in Apia where they're blessed to have all these venues from 2007. We don't have that in Honiara

so now it's identifying the land, identifying the needs. We're out there with donor countries right now seeking their support to fund the venues."

"We don't need to look at operational stuff right now - the catering, the transport - that's down the road. Right now it's all about trying to make sure we've got the facilities and the land and then a use agreement to ensure that no matter what happens there's access agreements for athletes to use them long-term," he said.

Clint Flood, who was CEO of the 2017 Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu, said they have now identified three main sites in Honiara where they plan to build new facilities.

"First is the King George Panatina area where the main stadium will be built along with an update to the Solomon Islands Football Federation stadium and then next two it have two big multi-purpose halls, so that will be an anchor for us."

"Then what we're doing is at SINU Kukum, which is a university complex about 2km away, there will be some more facilities built. Probably the jewel of what we're trying to do is at Mataniko which is an area in the inner area of Honiara where we want to create a green space," he said.

Christian Niengi is the Deputy Secretary to the Prime Minister and Acting Director of the National Hosting Authority.

He said they have recruited a strong team with the right skills and previous experience in hosting successful multi-sport events.

He said the proposed venues will be a game-changer for young people in the country.

"First and foremost I think it's to have those facilities available for Solomon Islands youths. There are around 200,000 youths and at the moment we lack those facilities so definitely when those facilities are put in place it will benefit the youth population of Solomon Islands."

"The main stadium is expected to cost about US$40m but Clint Flood said only a fraction of that figure will be paid for by the Solomon Island government."

"The government has already committed to a certain level of funding. That funding will go on each year to a Sports Solomons fund: that money will be dedicated to the Games, there's no chance of that going off to other projects so, having done this a number of times, I can confidently say I believe we're on track with where we are right now," Mr Niengi.

"We've done a detailed budget. Those plans have been shared obviously with donor countries so for instance this week we signed the agreement with the government of the Republic of China Taiwan to fund the main stadium."

"The contract has been signed with the contractor, we know exactly how much it's going to cost and obviously the two governments have worked out a loan programme and a repayment programme based on that. We've got the same thing done now for the pool and the same thing done for the tennis centre."

Clint Flood said if all goes to plan the new venues should be completed at least six before the Pacific Games get underway.

"Assuming that our donor partners will come through. We've had great discussions already through our chairman Dr Jimmy Rodgers - they've had bilateral discussions with a number of countries around the Pacific and some as far as the middle east and even Europe in terms of funding."

"I am confident that within six months we will have those venue agreements done and we will be able to have the facilities started to be constructed in 2020 - all finished by 2022. I want to have these venues done December 2022 and not two weeks before the Games."

Mr Flood said for Solomon Islands hosting the 2023 Pacific Games is about more than just two weeks of sporting competition.

"We want to use the Games as a catalyst to clean up the city, they want to sort out some water control quality issues so the big lesson I think is these Games are about a whole of government approach."

"You have to have every single department working together to ensure that we all come together for the Games but more importantly what's the vision 25-30 years down the road. Do not do these Games if you don't have a vision."