Pacific Games

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Pacific Games
Pacific Games Council.png
First event1963
Occur every4 years
HeadquartersSuva, Fiji
PresidentVidhya Lakhan
WebsiteOfficial website

The Pacific Games (formerly known as the South Pacific Games) is a continental multi-sport event competing Olympic sports, with participation exclusively from archipelagic countries around the Pacific Ocean. It is held every four years and began in 1963.

Nine different cities in six countries and territories have hosted the Pacific Games. Four countries have hosted the games three times: Fiji (1963, 1979, 2003), New Caledonia (1966, 1987, 2011), Papua New Guinea (1969, 1991, 2015) and Samoa (1983, 2007, 2019). Two territories have hosted the Pacific Games twice: French Polynesia (1971, 1995) and Guam (1975, 1999). The Solomon Islands will become the seventh country to host the event come 2023.

Only six countries have attended every edition of the Pacific Games: Fiji, French Polynesia (Tahiti), New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, and Vanuatu. New Caledonia have dominated twelve out of the fifteen Pacific Games, Papua New Guinea with two, and Fiji with one.

The most recent Pacific Games was held in Apia, Samoa in July 2019.



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 Pacific Community.[1]

Modern day games[edit]

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[edit]

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, the South Pacific Games Council decided 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[edit]

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 was admitted as a 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 the 2015 games Australia and New Zealand participate in the 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]

Nation Organisation Website
 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 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 Polynésie française (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 îles Wallis et Futuna (CTOSWF)

Pacific Games locations[edit]

Year Games Host Dates Athletes Nations Sports Most gold medals
1963 I FijiSuva,Fiji 29 August – 8 September 646 13 10  Fiji
1966 II New Caledonia Nouméa,New Caledonia 8–18 December 1200 14 12 New Caledonia
1969 III Papua New Guinea Port Moresby,Papua New Guinea 13–23 August 1150 12 15 New Caledonia
1971 IV French Polynesia Papeete,Tahiti 25 August – 5 September 2000 14 17 New Caledonia
1975 V GuamTumon,Guam 1–10 August 1205 13 16 New Caledonia
1979 VI FijiSuva,Fiji 28 August – 8 September 2672 19 18 New Caledonia
1983 VII SamoaApia,Western Samoa 5–16 September 2500 15 13 New Caledonia
1987 VIII Nouméa,New Caledonia 8–20 December 1650 12 18 New Caledonia
1991 IX Papua New GuineaPort Moresby,Papua New Guinea 7–21 September 2000 16 17  PapuaNew Guinea
1995 X French PolynesiaPapeete,Tahiti 25 August – 5 September 2000 12 25 New Caledonia
1999 XI GuamSanta Rita,Guam 29 May – 12 June  3000+ 21 22 New Caledonia
2003 XII FijiSuva,Fiji 28 June – 12 July 5000 22 32 New Caledonia
2007 XIII SamoaApia,Samoa 25 August – 8 September 5000 22 33 New Caledonia
2011 XIV Nouméa,New Caledonia 27 August – 10 September 4300 22 27 New Caledonia
2015 XV Papua New GuineaPort Moresby,Papua New Guinea 4–18 July 3700 24 28  PapuaNew Guinea
2019 XVI SamoaApia,Samoa[13] 7–20 July 3500 24 26 New Caledonia
2023 XVII Solomon IslandsHoniara,Solomon Islands[14] 14–28 July TBD 24 24
2027 XVIII French PolynesiaPapeete,Tahiti


There are 37 sports approved by the Pacific Games Council, as at December 2017.[15] The 2019 Pacific Games shall consist of a maximum 26 sports, but a reduction to a maximum of 24 sports will be made for 2023.[16]

Core sports[edit]

The number of Pacific Games core sports was increased from 14 to 16,[16] effective for the 2023 Games. This change was made in 2016, with Sailing and Triathlon being made core sports.[16] The core sports are required to be included at every edition of the games.

Details for each core sport, up to and including the 2019 games, are presented in the table below:

Sport (discipline) Contested Years
Athletics Athletics pictogram.svg All 1963–present
Basketball a (5x5) Basketball pictogram.svg All 1963–present
Basketball (3x3) 3-on-3 basketball pictogram.svg 1 time 2019–present
Boxing Boxing pictogram.svg All 1963–present
Football Football pictogram.svg 15 times 1963–1995, 2003–present
Golf Golf pictogram.svg 14 times 1969–present
Judo Judo pictogram.svg 11 times 1969–1979, 1987, 1995–2011, 2019–present
Outrigger canoeing Canoeing (flatwater) pictogram.svg 7 times 1995–present
Rugby 7s Rugby Sevens pictogram.svg 6 times 1999–present
Sailing Sailing pictogram.svg 13 times 1969–1979, 1987–present
Swimming Swimming pictogram.svg 15 times 1963–1979, 1987–present
Table tennis Table tennis pictogram.svg All 1963–present
Taekwondo Taekwondo pictogram.svg 7 times 1995–present
Tennis Tennis pictogram.svg All 1963–present
Triathlon Triathlon pictogram.svg 7 times 1995–present
Volleyball b (indoor) Volleyball (indoor) pictogram.svg All 1963–present
Volleyball (beach) Volleyball (beach) pictogram.svg 6 times 1999–present
Weightlifting Weightlifting pictogram.svg 15 times 1966–present

Optional sports[edit]

There are 21 sports optional for inclusion at a games, as selected by the host nation's organising committee. Details for each optional sport, up to and including the 2019 games, are presented in the table below:

Sport (discipline) Contested Years
Archery Archery pictogram.svg 7 times 1971–1975, 1995, 2003–2011, 2019
Badminton Badminton pictogram.svg 4 times 2003–2011, 2019
Baseball Baseball pictogram.svg 4 times 1999–2011
Billiards Billiards pictogram.svg 0 Never N/A
Bodybuilding Bodybuilding pictogram.svg 5 times 1995, 2003–2015
Cricket Cricket pictogram.svg 8 times 1979, 1987–1991, 2003–present
Cycling Cycling pictogram.svg 5 times 1966, 1971–1975, 1987, 1995
Field hockey Field hockey pictogram.svg 4 times 1979, 2003–2007, 2015
Handball Handball pictogram.svg 0 Never N/A
Karate Karate pictogram.svg 5 times 1995–2003, 2011–2015
Lawn bowls Lawn bowls pictogram.svg 7 times 1979, 1983, 1991, 2003–2007, 2015–present
Netball c Netball pictogram.svg 12 times 1963–1969, 1979–1983, 1991–2007, 2015–present
Powerlifting Powerlifting pictogram (Paralympics).svg 6 times 1995, 2003–present
Rugby league 9s Rugby league pictogram.svg 4 times 2007, 2015–present
Shooting Shooting pictogram.svg 7 times 1987, 1995, 2003–present
Snooker Cue sports pictogram.svg 0 Never N/A
Softball Softball pictogram.svg 6 times 1969–1975, 1991, 2007, 2015
Squash Squash pictogram.svg 9 times 1979–1991, 2003–present
Surfing Surfing pictogram.svg 4 times 1995, 2003–2011
Touch rugby d Rugby pictogram.svg 4 times 2003–2007, 2015–present
Wrestling Wrestling pictogram.svg 2 times 1999, 2007

Former sports[edit]

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

Sport (discipline) Contested Years
Rugby 15s Rugby pictogram.svg 9 times 1963–1971, 1979–1995
Underwater fishing Spearfishing pictogram.svg 4 times 1971–1975, 1995–1999

Also included at the 2009 Pacific Mini Games was rugby league 7s (now replaced by rugby league 9s).


^a The 3x3 format was added as an extra discipline for basketball in 2019 after being included at the Mini Games in 2017.

^b Volleyball and beach volleyball disciplines have been listed as one sport for the purposes of the Games program 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).[17][18]

^c Netball is a women's competition only.

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

All-time medal table[edit]

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 2019.

Nation(s) in italics are defunct PGAs.

1 New Caledonia9117276312269
2 French Polynesia5174504791446
3 Papua New Guinea4704364461352
4 Fiji4224854981405
5 Samoa (includes Western Samoa)232193201626
6 Nauru1016761229
7 Guam65108134307
8 Tonga5866105229
9 Australia502825103
10 American Samoa454881174
11 Cook Islands315470155
12 Vanuatu (includes New Hebrides)2963100192
13 Wallis and Futuna254285152
14 Micronesia20141044
15 Solomon Islands195292163
16 Kiribati12263371
17 New Zealand9191644
18 Palau9141336
19 Northern Mariana Islands8121232
20 Norfolk Island7151840
21 Tokelau3227
22 Tuvalu24612
23 Niue161219
24 Marshall Islands041317
25 Gilbert and Ellice Islands0112
Totals (25 nations)3046293631449126

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "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. ^ a b Charter 2007, p. 4.
  6. ^ Archived 4 May 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ a b 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. 3 September 2007. Retrieved 3 September 2007.
  10. ^ Paligaru, Clement. "PNG risks losing right to host 2015 Pacific Games". ABC Radio Australia. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  11. ^ a b "Pacific Games Council - DIRECTORY 2013" (PDF 0.4 MB). Pacific Games Council. 2013. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
  12. ^ "Vanuatu committed to 2017 Pacific Mini Games". Cook Islands News. 11 May 2017. Archived from the original on 7 October 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  13. ^ "Samoa Set To Host Pacific Games In 2019". Pacific Islands Report. 1 September 2017. Archived from the original on 2 September 2017. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  14. ^ "Solomon Islands awarded 2023 Pacific Games", Inside the Games, 11 May 2016
  15. ^ Charter 2018, p. 14–15.
  16. ^ a b c "Pacific Games: Sports Program Review". Pacific Games Council. 27 May 2016. Archived from the original on 9 February 2018. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  17. ^ Charter 2010, pp. 15–16.
  18. ^ Charter 2012, pp. 15–16.


External links[edit]