BY CARLOS ARUAFU, PACIFIC GAMES NEWS SERVICE
THE Sol2023 Pacific Games officially commenced on Sunday night with a vibrant Opening Ceremony at Solomon Islands’ newly built National Stadium in Honiara.
The event, held under the theme ‘Iumi Na Iumi’ meaning ‘We and Us,’ aimed to celebrate and unite the diverse cultures of the Pacific Islands.
Athletes from the 24 participating countries kicked off the festivities with a lively parade, many adorning their official colours and some with traditional attire and showcasing brief traditional dances.
More than 3,000 volunteers showcased the richness of Solomon Islands culture in three major performances: Nature in Harmony, Celebrating Athletes’ Achievements, and Fountain of Hope.
Each performance contributed to the theme of unity and cultural diversity.
President of the Solomon Islands National Olympic Committee (NOCSI), Martin Rara, in his welcome address extended a warm welcome to all participating countries and Solomon Islands as a whole.
He expressed gratitude to the Sol2023 Pacific Games Organising Committee (GOC), the Solomon Islands Government, sponsors, and volunteers for their collaborative efforts in ensuring the success of the opening ceremony.
“Thank you all for your unwavering commitment, tireless work and dedication.
“We have strived to create an unforgettable experience for all participants and spectators.
“This ceremony is a celebration of the spirit of unity and friendship.
“Remember that despite the different backgrounds and experiences, we are all united as the Pacific Islands,” Rara said.
Another highlight of the event was the entrance of the Pacific Games flag and the oath-taking ceremony.
President of the Pacific Games Council (PGC), Vidhya Lakhan in his speech urged all participants to be good ambassadors during the Games.
“Congratulations to all the athletes from all participating countries for your selection to compete in the Pacific Games. It is indeed an honour and privilege to do so.
“Our hosts have gone to great lengths so that you have the best venues for competition and are well looked after during your stay in the Solomon Islands.
“I therefore urge each one of you to be good ambassadors of your sport and your country,” Lakhan said.
This was followed by the keynote address by the Honourable Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, emphasising the significance of the event and acknowledging the support from key partners and sponsors.
Prime Minister Sogavare also reflected on the collective effort that went into organising the Games and expressed optimism for the days ahead, celebrating the spirit of sportsmanship and friendship among Pacific Island nations.
“Tonight we take the first step in telling our story to the whole world.
“The Pacific Games represents the true spirit of the Pacific. It showcases the very best in sport but it also plays a vital role in building economic, social, spiritual and cultural bridges.
“I would like to thank our partnership with key nations with significant contributions and sponsors that made this Games possible,” Prime Minister Sogavare said.
The ceremony ended with a mesmerising conclusion to the baton relay and the official declaration of the Games’ opening by Prime Minister Sogavare.
Athletes and the more than 10,000 spectators were treated to a spectacular firework display, adding a touch of brilliance to the night sky.
The Sol2023 Pacific Games stage is now set for two weeks of athletic excellence, cultural exchange, and unity among the diverse nations of the Pacific.