Photo: Pacific Games Media
The XVI Pacific Games came to a stunning successful conclusion in Apia late on Saturday evening. It ended two weeks of competition that brought together 23 countries in the region.
The Games put big smiles on 984 athletes faces who received 322 Gold, 321 Silver and 341 Bronze medals across 26 sports.
New Caledonia once again dominated the medals tally with host nation Samoa finishing third. Papua New Guinea has maintained their success in all sports when the country hosted the last Games in 2015 by finishing second with 130 medals.
The closing ceremony on Saturday night was a scene of celebration and brought to the end Samoa's successful hosting of the Games the country took on with only 14 months notice when Tonga pulled out of hosting this year's games.
It was a fortnight that was not without controversy. Samoa protested the involvement of transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, who denied two Gold medals to Samoa's women lifters.
The issue of transgender participation is being reviewed for the next Games in the Solomon Islands in 2023.
The other critical issue is the increasing involvement of New Zealand and Australia as they seek to become full members of the Games. Full membership appears to be only a matter of time, it will happen as early as 2027 if not in 2023 at the next Games.
This will make the Pacific Games - probably with a new name - a truly continental gathering of athletes from around Oceania. The other upside is the direct qualification of athletes at the new games for the Olympics and other global competitions.
When that happens New Caledonia's domination of the medals table will change. The level of competition will again be raised to a much higher level, offering a true measure of world standards for Pacific athletes.
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