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The Solomon Islands government has finally secured land to build the main stadium for the 2023 Pacific Games.
Solomon Islands won the bid to host the event two years ago but efforts to finalise a site in Honiara for the new national stadium have faced a series of delays.
The CEO of the Pacific Games Council, Andrew Minogue, said the site was close to King George VI Secondary School and the University of South Pacific campus.
"On those two facilities, the school and the university, is going to be the athletes villages for the Games, where all the teams and delegations will stay," he said.
"So it's always made a lot of sense to have the main hub of the Games - your main stadium, your athletics track and so on - in those grounds but we've been made aware the last year or so that there's some land issues around getting full access to that sit.
"It appears through the PM's department they've intervened and basically brought all the stakeholders together and got an agreement which is really quite helpful."
Negotiations for the use of land, previously used for the Festival of Pacific Arts in 2012, had been ongoing since early last year.
The original site proposed for the stadium at Burns Creek near the eastern boundary of Honiara was abandoned due to difficulties evicting squatters from the land.
It was important the new stadium was one that worked for the city and the country in the long-term and was sustainable, Minogue said.
"What it will allow now is for the next stage, the actual design of the facility, to ramp up and get moving," he said.
"During the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands was here and the Pacific Games Council have signed an updated Host City Agreement with him and NOCSI, the host Olympic Committee.
"We did sign a contract when they won the Games in 2016 but we thought given that it's the first time they're hosting the games and being mindful of some of the issues we had around the 2019 event, switching out of Tonga," Minogue said.
"For a country that's got to build a lot of facilities we thought we should put some additional milestones into the contract and we've all signed off on those... around the facilities construction is an important one but also things like the funding and establishment of the Games Organising Committee.
"Making sure those structures are in place early enough so they can deliver the games... and I think having this land agreement for King George VI is going to go a long way to helping them meet the facilities deadlines we've put out for them.".
SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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