SOL23: Challenged, Celebrated, United: Sol2023 Pacific Games closes in joyful ceremony

All 24 participating nations were celebrated at the closing ceremony. Photos: Pacific Games News Service

The Sol2023 Pacific Games concluded with a vibrant closing ceremony at Honiara’s National Stadium on Saturday night, marking the end of a two-week sporting extravaganza featuring 24 Pacific nations.

The Games saw more than 5,000 athletes compete in 24 sports that witnessed New Caledonia top the medal tally with an impressive 82 gold medals.

The closing ceremony commenced with the Games’ thousands of volunteers parading around the National Stadium.

This special moment was dedicated to celebrating the volunteers who played a crucial role in the Games’ success, garnering cheers as they marched in their distinctive uniforms.

The festivities continued with a mesmerising parade by all participating countries, accompanied by heartfelt farewells to departing teams.

The President of the Pacific Games Council (PGC), Vidhya Lakhan, expressed admiration for the athletic talent showcased across the two weeks of competition, and emphasised the deeper cultural significance embedded in the Pacific Games.

With gratitude, he acknowledged the efforts of those who contributed to the event’s success, including volunteers, school children performers, ministries, organisers, and sponsors.

Lakhan lauded the Games for surpassing expectations in terms of participation, arrangements, venue quality, and competitive standards.

He commended the government and people of the Solomon Islands, led by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, and acknowledged the successful hosting of the Games. Overcoming initial doubts about the country’s ability to organise such a large event, the President praised the vision, commitment, and faith in the local people demonstrated by Prime Minister Sogavare.

“The government and people of the Solomon Islands under the leadership of Prime Minister Sogavare, by hosting these games not only united and strengthened the bond between the people of Solomon Islands, but also between the peoples of the Pacific,” Lakhan said.

“We commend you, Mr Prime Minister, for your vision, for your commitment and for your faith in your own people.

“We commend you in engaging a small band of experts with experience in delivering successful Pacific Games in the recent past, empowering and providing them with the necessary resources to deliver the Games.”

He congratulated all the medal winners, and reminded those who missed out that their turn will come perhaps at the next Games.

“In the name of the Pacific Games Council, I proclaim the Solomon Islands 2023 Pacific Games closed,” Lakhan declared.

“I call upon the sportsmen and women of the Pacific to assemble in four years’ time in Tahiti to celebrate the eighteenth Pacific Games. May you display cheerfulness and harmony so that the spirit of our Pacific family of nations may be carried on with great eagerness, courage and honour for the good of humanity and for the peace of the world,” Lakhan concluded.

The night ended with a concert featuring Solomon Islands artists and a spectacular firework display.

Looking ahead, Tahiti is set to host the next edition of the Pacific Games in 2027.

By Carlos Aruafu, Pacific Games News Service