Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has thanked the members of the “Pacific family” for taking part in the Pacific Games, as Papua New Guinea prepares to bid them farewell.
“We are sorry to see friends leave our shores and we thank you for taking part in these outstanding Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea,” O’Neill said.
“If you are a visitor, I hope your time in Papua New Guinea, and at these Games, will be among the proudest memories of your lifetime,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill said some moments during the past two weeks stood out clearly as “displays of sporting friendship”.
“It was great to see the way athletes from different places and languages could break down barriers and congratulate each other, and even cheer for their competitors,” he said.
“The atmosphere at the Games Village was one of a true Pacific family. I know a lot of friendships and bonds have been made between teams and people.
“The names of all athletes, regardless of which country they came from or where they finished in their events, are etched into the history of this great sporting event.
“To have the smallest island states show such commitment to these Games, knowing some teams had to travel by several boats and planes to reach Port Moresby, is heartwarming.
“It was good to see Aussie and Kiwi athletes participating in the Games for the first time and they added a new dimension to competition.
“To every athlete, coach, official and supporter from the competing nations, Papua New Guineans thank you for taking part in the 2015 Pacific Games.”
With fireworks, music, grass skirts and a sample of the Pacific’s rich and diverse culture, Port Moresby said a fond goodbye the 2015 Pacific Games in Saturday night’s closing ceremony at BSP Stadium.
Vidhya Lakhan (FIJ), president of the Pacific Games Council (PGC), proclaimed the Port Moresby 2015 Pacific Games an “outstanding Games that surpassed all expectations” as he declared the Games closed and started a night that brought the whole of Papua New Guinea to the party.
Lakhan said he hopes the Games will leave something to remember for the host city, while giving Tonga 2019 something to aim for.
“We want the Games to leave legacies, physical and human, that will last long after the 2015 Games have finished,” said Lakhan in his speech, part of the formalities of the closing ceremony.
“Thank you for being such a wonderful host. Thank you for making our stay in Port Moresby safe and memorable,” said Lakhan.
“Realising your dreams and your goals is not impossible.”
Lakhan did not forget the stars of the show, the athletes, who he said had exceeded expectations – particularly those from PNG.
“You are the true champions of these Games with your stirring performances in front of of the home crowd.
“You have done PNG proud,” he said.
The Governor General of Papua New Guinea, Michael Ogio (PNG) started proceedings by proclaiming that PNG should bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games, a suggestion that drew applause from the thousands of athletes, volunteers and spectators who had come out for the fun.
Next, Andrew Minogue (AUS) the executive director of the PGC, handed the title of best male athlete of the Games to Ryan Pini (PNG) and best female athlete to New Caledonia’s Lara Grangeon.
Pini stepped to the podium to claim his honour, while New Caledonia’s Chef de Mission collected the gong on behalf of Grangeon, who had already departed PNG.
After Lakhan poured the plaudits on the hosts, athletes and volunteers, the Pacific Games flag was handed on to the next hosts, Tonga.
And then, it was party time.
PNG’s pop king Anslom took to the stage, starting a procession of local and regional stars that went long into the night.
J Boog, Fiji, O-Shen and George Mamua Telek gave the crowd a taste of a range of genres from the region, before Jay Lieasi brought the night, and the Games, to an end.