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

The Pacific Games (French: Jeux du Pacifique), is a continental multi-sport event held every four years among athletes from Oceania. The inaugural Games took place in 1963 in Suva, Fiji, and most recently in 2019 in Apia, Samoa. The Games were called the South Pacific Games from 1963 to 2007. The Pacific Games Council (PGC) organises the Games and oversees the host city's preparations. Athletes with a disability are included as full members of their national teams. In each sporting event, gold medals are awarded for first place, silver medals are awarded for second place, and bronze medals are awarded for third place.

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). French Polynesia, who hosted in 1971 and 1995, will become the fifth country to host the Games for the third time in 2027. The United States territory of Guam have hosted the Games twice in 1975 and 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 thirteen out of the sixteen Pacific Games, Papua New Guinea with two, and Fiji with one.



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

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

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

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] In 2019, New Zealand was allowed to compete in men's football with an under-23 squad.

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)

List of Pacific Games


Overview of the Pacific Games
Year Edition Host city Host Association Opened by Sports Events Teams Start date End date Competitors Top Association Ref
1963 I Suva Fiji Fiji Sir Kenneth Maddocks 10 58 13 29 Aug. 8 Sep. 646 Fiji Fiji
1966 II Nouméa New Caledonia New Caledonia Unknown 12 86 14 8 Dec. 18 Dec. 1200 New Caledonia New Caledonia
1969 III Port Moresby Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea Prince Edward 15 95 12 13 Aug. 23 Aug. 1150 New Caledonia New Caledonia
1971 IV Papeete French Polynesia Tahiti Pierre Messmer 17 117 14 25 Aug. 5 Sep. 2000 New Caledonia New Caledonia
1975 V Tumon  Guam Ricardo Bordallo 16 119 13 1 Aug. 10 Aug. 1205 New Caledonia New Caledonia
1979 VI Suva  Fiji Unknown 18 129 19 28 Aug. 8 Sep. 2672 New Caledonia New Caledonia
1983 VII Apia Samoa Western Samoa Malietoa Tanumafili II 15 97 13 5 Sep. 16 Sep. 2500 New Caledonia
1987 VIII Nouméa New Caledonia Unknown 18 159 12 8 Dec. 20 Dec. 1650 New Caledonia
1991 IX Port Moresby  Papua New Guinea Prince Andrew 17 164 16 7 Sep. 21 Sep. 2000  Papua New Guinea
1995 X Pirae French Polynesia Tahiti Unknown 25 253 12 25 Aug. 5 Sep. 2000 New Caledonia
1999 XI Santa Rita  Guam Unknown 22 233 21 29 May 12 Jun. 3000+ New Caledonia
2003 XII Suva  Fiji Josefa Iloilo 32 309 22 28 Jun. 12 Jul. 5000 New Caledonia
2007 XIII Apia  Samoa Tufuga Efi 33 305 22 25 Aug. 8 Sep. 5000 New Caledonia
2011 XIV Nouméa  New Caledonia Nicolas Sarkozy 27 305 22 27 Aug. 10 Sep. 4300  New Caledonia
2015 XV Port Moresby  Papua New Guinea Prince Andrew 28 300 24 4 Jul. 18 Jul. 3700  Papua New Guinea
2019 XVI Apia  Samoa Va'aletoa Sualauvi II 26 322 24 7 Jul. 20 Jul. 3500  New Caledonia
2023 XVII Honiara  Solomon Islands TBA 24 TBD 24 19 Nov. 2 Dec. TBD
2027 XVIII Pirae  Tahiti TBA 24 TBD 24 TBD


There are 37 sports approved by the Pacific Games Council, as at December 2017.[13] In accordance with the Pacific Games Charter, a maximum 24 sports shall be contested at every games starting from the 2023 games and onwards.[14]

Core sports

The number of Pacific Games core sports is 17, effective for the 2023 Games. The core sports are required to be included at every edition of the games.[14] Sailing and Triathlon were made core sports in 2016,[14] and Archery was added in 2021.[15]

Details for each core sport, up to and including the 2023 games, are presented in the table below:

Sport (discipline) Contested Years
Archery 8 times 1971–1975, 1995, 2003–2011, 2019–present
Athletics All 1963–present
Basketball a (5x5) All 1963–present
Basketball (3x3) 2 times 2019–present
Boxing All 1963–present
Football 16 times 1963–1995, 2003–present
Golf 15 times 1969–present
Judo 12 times 1969–1979, 1987, 1995–2011, 2019–present
Outrigger canoeing 8 times 1995–present
Rugby sevens 6 times 1999–present
Sailing 14 times 1969–1979, 1987–present
Swimming 16 times 1963–1979, 1987–present
Table tennis All 1963–present
Taekwondo 8 times 1995–present
Tennis All 1963–present
Triathlon 8 times 1995–present
Volleyball b (indoor) All 1963–present
Volleyball (beach) 7 times 1999–present
Weightlifting 16 times 1966–present

Optional sports

There are 20 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
Badminton 4 times 2003–2011, 2019
Baseball 4 times 1999–2011
Billiards 0 Never N/A
Bodybuilding 5 times 1995, 2003–2015
Cricket 8 times 1979, 1987–1991, 2003–present
Cycling 5 times 1966, 1971–1975, 1987, 1995
Field hockey 4 times 1979, 2003–2007, 2015
Handball 0 Never N/A
Karate 5 times 1995–2003, 2011–2015
Lawn bowls 7 times 1979, 1983, 1991, 2003–2007, 2015–present
Netball c 12 times 1963–1969, 1979–1983, 1991–2007, 2015–present
Powerlifting 6 times 1995, 2003–present
Rugby league nines 4 times 2007, 2015–present
Shooting 7 times 1987, 1995, 2003–present
Snooker 0 Never N/A
Softball 6 times 1969–1975, 1991, 2007, 2015
Squash 9 times 1979–1991, 2003–present
Surfing 4 times 1995, 2003–2011
Touch rugby d 4 times 2003–2007, 2015–present
Wrestling 2 times 1999, 2007

Former sports

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

Sport (discipline) Contested Years
Rugby union 9 times 1963–1971, 1979–1995
Underwater fishing 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).[16][17]

^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

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 entries)3046293631449126

See also


  1. ^ a b c "History". Pacific Games Council Official Website. 2013. Archived from the original on 30 April 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  2. ^ Charter 2007, p. 6.
  3. ^ Bikinis out, Shorts in at Beach Volleyball Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine Pacific Radio News - Niue FM, 29 August 2007
  4. ^ French tests: Opposition grows Archived 10 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine, article summarising the response to French nuclear testing in the Pacific from World Information Service on Energy Archived 10 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine 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". Archived from the original on 1 August 2009. Retrieved 11 July 2009.
  8. ^ "Article by CBRE regarding increase to gross domestic product and real estate values as a result of the 2004 Athens Olympics". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 3 September 2007.
  9. ^ "Games puts Samoa in debt". ABC Radio Australia. 3 September 2007. Archived from the original on 11 September 2007. Retrieved 3 September 2007.
  10. ^ Paligaru, Clement. "PNG risks losing right to host 2015 Pacific Games". ABC Radio Australia. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  11. ^ a b "Pacific Games Council - DIRECTORY 2013" (PDF 0.4 MB). Pacific Games Council. 2013. Archived from the original on 16 May 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. ^ Charter 2018, p. 14–15.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Monnier, Jean-Marc (25 November 2021). "Archery: The discipline now "compulsory sport"". Archived from the original on 1 April 2022.
  16. ^ Charter 2010, pp. 15–16.
  17. ^ Charter 2012, pp. 15–16.