Politicians in Tonga are demanding to know how much compensation the country paid after it withdrew as host of the 2019 Pacific Games ©Getty Images

Politicians in Tonga have demanded to know how much money the country paid in compensation after it failed to host the Pacific Games in 2019.

Tonga was awarded the Games in 2012 but pulled out in 2017, citing financial concerns, and the event took place in Samoa instead.

In 2018, legal action against the country's Government was launched by the Pacific Games Council (PGC) and the Tonga Association of Sport and National Olympic Committee (TASANOC).

The suit demanded millions of dollars in damages for breach of contract following the country's withdrawal.

In October last year, it was announced that the PGC and TASANOC had settled their dispute with the Government.

As well as compensation, this also included an apology and "appropriate acknowledgement of the consequences caused by the Kingdom of Tonga to the PGC and TASANOC".

Samoa hosted the 2019 Pacific Games at short notice, in place of Tonga ©ITG
Samoa hosted the 2019 Pacific Games at short notice, in place of Tonga ©ITG

The settlement is said to be confidential but the issue has now been raised in the country's Parliament with opposition figures asking for the figure to be revealed.

One member, 'Aisake Eke, asked why the issue was not mentioned in the annual report of Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni and questioned what legislation was used to withhold the amount of money, according to Matangi.

Sovaleni claimed that the country's Supreme Court had ruled that the settlement was confidential.

He added that the annual report covered 2022, and that the money was paid in 2023.

"If you want more detail, we have to go back to the court, and we then can reveal the $100,000 (£80,000/€93,000), or whatever was the debt," he said.

"It was confidential between the two parties, and we agreed. 

"We still can go back and ask for it to be opened up.

"There was a bill to be paid."

Parliament was told that as the annual report had already been approved, it could not be debated on again.

Matangi reported that "some members did not remember that the house had already passed this issue".

Tonga was rocked by a huge volcano blast in January 2022 ©Getty Images
Tonga was rocked by a huge volcano blast in January 2022 ©Getty Images

Lord Tu‘i‘afitu, Tonga's Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, said: "All these members voted in favour of the report, now they are questioning the report."

However, Eke, who lost a Prime Minister election to Sovaleni in 2021, claimed that the Supreme Court had nothing to do with the settlement.

"The payment was made after an agreement between the two parties outside of the court," he said.

Piveni Piukala, another member, asked if it was right that the Government had spent money "without the people and the house knowing".

Finances are a big issue in Tonga after the country was rocked by a massive volcano blast in January 2022.

The eruption of the underwater Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha'apai caused widespread damage and triggered huge tsunamis felt as far away as Peru.

In the aftermath, Tonga was cut off from the outside world for days as vital communication lines were severed.

The amount of ash hampered the aid effort and swamped the airport runway, with the Government declaring the situation an "unprecedented disaster".