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French Polynesia

The French battle continues

The awarding of the 2027 Pacific Games to Tahiti has its government further condemning repeated claims from the United Nations that French Polynesia remains a colony of France.

The overseas collectivity was quick to turn the winning bid into a campaign tool, singing the virtues of French Polynesian public institutions weeks out from an independence vote.

French Polynesia’s current ruling party has always protested against a UN ruling that in 2013 decided the 118 islands and atolls including Tahiti are not independent of France, and placed it onto an international list of non-self-governing territories.

Tahiti got the nod from the International Olympic Committee officials to stage the quadrennial event in less than six years’ time ahead of Vanuatu.

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Papeete has played host city to past Pacific Games in 1971 and 1999 before missing out on 2023 to the Solomon Islands.

“The candidacy file for French Polynesia, carried by the Olympic Committee of French Polynesia, was unanimously supported by all political classes,” a French Polynesian government statement said.

“Indeed, the assembly of French Polynesia, this week validated a resolution, which affirms support of all Polynesian elected officials, all political stripes combined, for the candidature of Tahiti 2027.

“It is a strong and concrete commitment of Polynesian public institutions, who demonstrate their unity around this project.”

Tahiti games bid win
French Polynesia president Edouard Fritch and Tahiti Olympic Committee president Louis Provost present the Tahitian bid. Photo: Supplied, Facebook

The Tapura Huiraatira government wishes to maintain political autonomy but still within the French republic amid louder calls from the Opposition to cut ties altogether.

French Polynesian president Edouard Fritch and its “unrecognised” Olympic committee president Louis Provost were quite vocal in the bid that coincided with France promising Tahiti would host surfing at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Their government has previously been warned from interfering in the autonomy and independence of its sporting associations.

The political indiscretions had forced the Pacific Games Council to suspend Tahiti in December 2017.

Only a letter from Mr Fritch to the Tahiti Nui Pacific Games Association that the government would respect the association’s autonomy, and further assurances from the president that there would be no political interference on decisions, ensured the council overturned the ban after eight months.

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