BY JOHN HOUANIHAU
In a momentous event on Friday, August 18th, the Solomon Island Government took possession of the newly constructed 10,000-seat National Stadium, a centerpiece of the upcoming 17th Pacific Games set to kick off on November 19th, 2023.
The handover ceremony featured significant gestures, including the formal exchange of completion certificates between contractors and the Solomon Island Government, the symbolic transfer of keys from PRC Ambassador Li Ming to the SIG Prime Minister, and the presentation of tokens of appreciation and gratitude. The event was culminated by the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon, marking the official handover of the 2023 Pacific Games Stadium.
The occasion was attended by key figures, including Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, PRC Ambassador Li Ming, Minister for Sport Hon Christopher Laore, and representatives from various organizations involved in the project.
Prime Minister Sogavare acknowledged the substantial contribution of the People’s Republic of China, emphasizing that the stadium was a gift symbolizing the strong relationship between the two nations. The estimated total value of China’s support for the 2023 Pacific Games, including the stadium project, was highlighted to be around 1 billion Solomon dollars.
Reflecting on the journey from the ground-breaking ceremony in May 2021 to the current completion, Prime Minister Sogavare underlined the challenges faced during the 26-month endeavor. He praised the project management and contractors for overcoming obstacles such as the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturing shortages, and logistical hurdles. He characterized their achievements as nothing short of miraculous.
The 2023 Pacific Games Stadium Project encompasses several distinct components, with the 10,000-seat stadium being the largest. Divided into two areas—the West End sports park and East End sports park—the project includes facilities like the aquatic center, tennis court complex, administration building, training track, multipurpose hall, and more.
Prime Minister Sogavare also revealed that the ceremony wasn’t the last handover, hinting at another event planned for mid-October 2023. At that time, three-story dormitory buildings at the SINU Kukum Campus will be officially handed over, providing accommodation for 900 athletes during the games.
The momentous event marked the culmination of a collaborative effort between the Solomon Islands and the People’s Republic of China, celebrating their shared commitment to the Pacific Games and fostering bilateral relations.