After weeks of uncertainty, disappointment, hope, and feverish planning, Gov. Benigno R. Fitial announced yesterday afternoon that the CNMI’s on-again off-again love affair with the 2006 Micronesian Games is officially on again.
During his weekly media conference at the Governor’s Office on Capitol Hill, Fitial said he had already sent a letter off to Micronesian Games Council president William Keldermans and the Palau National Olympic Committee that, in effect, rescinded his previous communication to cancel the CNMI’s hosting duties.
In the letter, Fitial said that he had the assurance of “credible private sector volunteers and financial contributors” that Saipan will host the games “with the understanding that the financial cost to the CNMI will be substantially borne by our private sector, given the severe financial weakness of our local government.”
The announcement was followed with applause from the attendees that filled the room, as well as with the governor’s stamp of approval that the event should go off without a hitch.
“We’ve got a good plan here. I already wrote to the Micro Games Organizing Committee this morning and that, after a review of the plan, that Saipan will allow the Games to continue,” he said.
Fitial said that he has confidence that the Games will be a success because the business community as well as members of the Legislature have already voiced their support for the quadrennial event.
Saipan Chamber of Commerce president Charles Cepeda and Saipan Rotary Club former president Harry Blalock were present to hear the news and Fitial said that the duo will have plenty to ask of their respective organizations in the coming months before the 1,200-1,700 athletes descend upon the CNMI.
In addition to the governor’s news, Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Daisy Villagomez-Bier announced that she has officially handed over the position of committee chairman to NMASA president Michael White.
Villagomez-Bier said that she felt that the chair “should be returned to the rightful position” of the NMASA head, but maintained her support for the Games throughout the planning process and during the event.
Fitial said that he would be leaving for Guam this morning on a mission to speak with Admiral Charles J. Liedig Jr. over the weekend. While the Micro Games hosting will not be the only topic the two will discuss, Fitial said that he plans to ask Liedig for permission to secure 1,200 military cots that will serve as beds for the visiting athletes during their stay in the proposed “village” at Marianas High School.
In addition to the cots, Fitial said that he would also be requesting a fly-by during the opening ceremonies at 6pm on June 23 to get the Games started in style.