Twenty-four nations represented their homeland flags proudly at the 17th Pacific Games opening last night.
Pacific Games News Service
The 17th Pacific Games launched with a bang, treating spectators with a display of fireworks, performances and proud Pacific atheles and officials.
Audiences around the world were treated to an electrifying Pacific Games opening ceremony in the Solomon Islands.
Up to 10,000 spectators packed the island's National Stadium in Honiara, where 24 Pacific Nations walked behind their national flag with many stopping to perform for the crowd.
Solomon Islands both hosting and bearing their flag at the XVII Sol2023 Pacific games. Photo/Pacific Games News Service
Among the flag bearers was New Zealand's own Commonwealth Games weightlifting gold medalist David Liti.
The 27-year-old with roots to Tonga told media how much of an "honour and privilege" it was to represent his birth country.
"I can showcase what we are made of and what it means to come from the islands of New Zealand," Liti says.
Around 5,000 athletes and officials are participating in this year's competition which will wrap up in two weeks on 2 December.
But what are the Pacific Games?
The Pacific Olympics: What it is and how it works
The Pacific Games is defined as a "multi-sport event with participation from Pacific island countries and territories" or as some have coined it: The Pacific's mini Olympics.
There are 27 sports in this year's competition, with the basketball, football, tennis and volleyball played days prior to the opening ceremony.
Nations across the region compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in each sport, with placings based on each sports' different competition rules.
Additionally, athletes with a disability are included as full members of their national teams, an inclusive initiative that Aotearoa put $3m towards.
The Games also is a qualifying event for the Olympics which will be held in France next year.
The winners of each of the 13 boxing weight categories plus the gold medalists in the archery mixed team event, can secure a spot for the Olympics in Paris 2024.
Catching up on Sol2023 Pacific Games
Last Friday, 17 November the mens' and womens' inaugural tennis match was also the first match of the Pacific Games.
Samoa won against Solomon Islands by a single point, 2-1, and Tonga claimed victory over Nauru 3-0.
In the basketball, Fiji win 70-45 over Tahiti at the weekend.
Team spokesman Laisiasi Puamau credits the impressive score margin to the experience of seasoned players.
"The goal for the team now is to build off our first game and continue to improve as the competition goes on," Puamau says.
"Our focus and our goal is on our next game which is with Tonga on Monday."
A short history on the Pacific's mini Olympics
This year's Games is its 17th, which first launched in the capital of Fiji, Suva in 1963 and was formerly known as the South Pacific Games until 2007.
The Games occur every three to four years with different Oceania countries hosting it. The last Pacific Games was held in Samoa, Apia in 2019.
In the last event, New Caledonia claimed 76 gold medals. Papua New Guinea and Samoa tied second for a total of 38 gold medals, with Fiji and Tahiti following suit with 35 Gold each.
As for total medals earned, Tahiti again took the most with a whopping 182 medals collected, with Papua New Guinea getting second-most with 130 and Samoa at third with 125.
2019's outcome was fitting for New Caledonia and Tahiti as they both hold the title for the most gold medals won all-time, with Papua New Guinea at third and Fiji fourth.