SPORTS Fans across the Pacific are preparing for the XV Pacific Games, set to take place in Port Moresby from 4-18 of July.

But well before that will be the 26 March start of the 100-day Oil Search Pacific Games Relay, which is set to visit all 22 of Papua New Guinea’s provinces before finishing at the opening ceremony on 4 July.

Pacific Games Organising Committee chairperson Emma Waiwai said the relay would showcase Papua New Guinea’s natural beauty and cultural traditions to the world.

“Starting on 26 March at Ela Beach in Port Moresby, the Oil Search Pacific Games Relay will travel through every province before it returns to Port Moresby on 4 July to be part of the Pacific Games Opening Ceremony,” she said.

Over 2,000 runners will carry the baton of the Games, designed to symbolise the traditional Kundu (drum) and made from copper, one of Papua New Guinea’s major resource commodities, by PNG artist Gickmai Kundun.

Oil Search executive general manager of external affairs and sustainability Gerea Aopi said his company was proud to help bring the excitement of the Games to Papua New Guineans.

The company paid K5 million for naming rights for the relay.

“As a proud Papua New Guinean company, we are pleased to be taking this wonderful event right across the country and providing an opportunity for those people who are unable to come to Port Moresby to be part of the Games through the relay,’’ Mr Aopi said.

Organisers received over 5,500 applications for volunteer roles, with Games Organising Committee executive manager for operations Clint Flood saying the public response had been fantastic.

The Games are also set to be broadcast in Australia on the National Indigenous Television (NITV) network, as well as on the National Broadcasting Company of PNG – NBC Radio and Kundu 2, Click TV, EMTV and France TV as well as TV and radio stations in the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa and the Cook Islands, among Others.