X0A0979 scaled | May 18, 2024

Challenge, Celebrate, Unite: Opening Ceremony wows Honiara crowd

X0A0985 | May 18, 2024
The baton relay ended at the spectacular Sol2023 waterfall. Photos: Pacific Games News Service.

The sensational display of culture, sport, and unity left the audience at the Solomon Islands National Stadium in admiration, respect, and some even in tears of joy and excitement as the biggest sporting event in the Pacific, the Sol2023 Pacific Games opened.

The event, with the theme CHALLENGE, CELEBRATE, UNITE, gathered nations from around the Pacific who have united to celebrate and enjoy not only the spirit of the competition but also the extraordinary diversity of culture that defines the biggest ocean in the world.

The festivities began with traditional greetings from the Solomon Islands group, Nature in Harmony, which was complemented by an amazing performance to show the rich cultural heritage of the Solomon Islands. As the dancers dressed in colourful costumes moved gracefully, their unison setting the stage for a night that would be remembered many years down the line, the beating of drums echoed throughout the stadium and filled the air with anticipation, excitement, and expectation.

The stadium became a sea of colors with the parade of nations when the sun set below the horizon and the moon started to smile at the event. The athletes from 24 Pacific countries were proudly marching, displaying a mixture of determination and excitement on their faces. One by one they paraded onto the middle of the field showcasing a traditional dance from their homeland. The atmosphere was filled with the sound of cheering as the national anthem created an electric atmosphere that reflected the true nature of the Games in the spirit of unity from island to island.

The conclusion of the baton relay, which has visited the nine provinces of Solomon Islands over the past three months, was an important event in the program. Renowned athletes from the host nation had the honor of carrying the sacred paddle onto a stage at the northern side of the stadium. Fireworks erupted and a waterfall flowed, a masterpiece of local artistic art, and its glow lit up the entire stage. 

The Games Organising Committee for the Pacific Games in 2023 spared no expense to ensure that world-class entertainment was provided at the ceremony. A magnificent fireworks display lit up the night sky, painting a canvas of colors that reflected off nearby waters and different colours of the Solomon Islands national flag. Renowned Solomon Islands musicians Jaro Local, Amy Bauro and Khazin performed the Games theme song and setting a mood of celebration and comradeship.

The spectacle deeply impressed Solomon Islanders in the thousands-strong crowd.

Alderton Toata from Malaita and Western Province said: “I’m so excited to be here at this very new stadium. I know all my friends are here, and we’re extremely hyped, cheerful and grateful for today. We’re looking forward to the next two weeks, hoping for more exciting games, and meeting new people”.

Travis Ziku, who attended the Opening Ceremony with his wife, said: “We’re so proud as Solomon Islanders being at this event. It’s a special and different feeling. It’s such a great opportunity to come and sit down and experience the facilities that our sports men and women will take ownership of. Not only for now but also to upskill our future generations’ sports men and women. This will go down in history and we’re looking forward to Solomon Islands attaining goals for the country”.

As the opening ceremony concluded, a sense of anticipation lingered in the air. The Sol2023 Pacific Games promises not only intense competition among athletes but also a celebration of the shared history, culture, and aspirations of the Pacific nations. The stage is set for two weeks of thrilling sportsmanship as athletes from across the region compete for glory and forge lasting connections that extend beyond the playing field.

By Peter Psalm and Lynnissha Runa, Pacific Games News Service

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