China hands over stadium project to Solomon Islands in a key milestone achievement in sports infrastructure development for Solomon Islands.
In a significant stride forward for sports infrastructure, the largest games facility was officially handed over to the government on Friday by the People’s Republic of China. This transfer of the country’s largest stadium represents a critical milestone as preparations intensify for the upcoming Pacific Games in November. Dr. Jimmie Rodgers, Secretary to the Prime Minister, was visibly moved during the event, expressing heartfelt gratitude to both the Chinese government and the diligent Solomon Islands workforce for their relentless dedication in bringing these modern sports facilities to fruition. Rodgers stated, “Now you can look back and say these are built with my hands.”
The journey towards the establishment of these impressive facilities was not without its hurdles. In its initial stages, the stadium project faced skepticism and critique, primarily due to its association with China. The Solomon Islands’ diplomatic shift to China in 2019 was met with widespread criticism. However, this skepticism has been directly addressed through this generous contribution, symbolizing a bridge towards enhanced international relations.
PRC Ambassador to Solomon Islands, H.E Li Ming, highlighted the conscious integration of Solomon Islands culture during the construction process. He emphasized that the 10,000-seat stadium is a testament to this cultural consideration. Additionally, Ming stressed the positive impact on the local economy through the employment of indigenous workers and the utilization of locally-sourced materials.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare emphasised the significance of these facilities for the bulging youth population. With a substantial demographic of young individuals, these venues are set to become hubs of growth and sports development. “A substantial 60% of our youth population falls under the age of 20,” Prime Minister Sogavare emphasized, highlighting the investment value of the sports infrastructure in nurturing the younger generation. Regarding the investment in the 2023 Pacific Games, Prime Minister and Minister responsible for the event, Manasseh Sogavare deemed it “entirely appropriate.”
Amidst the celebratory atmosphere, the President of the Pacific Games Council,Vidhya Lakhan voiced valid concerns about the post-event maintenance of these newly established sports facilities. Ensuring the sustainability and lasting legacy of these venues beyond the Pacific Games poses a crucial challenge for the government. A concern also raised by the World Bank in 2022.
Addressing these concerns, Prime Minister Sogavare assured the nation that the government has crafted a comprehensive long-term strategy to uphold and optimize the potential of these world-class facilities. The commitment to preserving the legacy of the Pacific Games remains unwavering. Prime Minister Sogavare confirmed that the development of a long-term legacy plan and a business strategy for the sustained use and maintenance of each facility is already underway.
Sogavare said the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) has committed to providing maintenance support to the 2023 Pacific Games Stadium facilities for 24 months from the handover date to the Solomon Islands Government. Prime Minister Sogavare emphasized that the completion and handover of the 2023 Pacific Games Stadium project in a record time of 26 months is a testament to the genuine partnership and commitment between the involved nations to achieve agreed priorities within specified timeframes.
The 2023 Pacific Games Stadium Project comprises seven distinct components. The flagship venue, a 10,000-seat National Stadium complex, includes a full-size football and rugby field, as well as running tracks that adhere to international standards. The project also encompasses an aquatic center, a six-court Tennis center, a five-a-side hockey field, and a versatile multi-purpose hall.