2-in-1 athletics competition suggested


The CNMI’s Nick Gross competes in the javelin throw event in the 2018 Micronesian Games in Yap. Next year’s Micronesian Games will be held in the Marshall Islands in 2022 and it could double as the Micronesian Regional Championships. (HIROYUKI MORI)

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing scheduling problems to sports competitions, Oceania Athletics Association is looking at combining two competitions in one event.

OAA president and Northern Marianas Athletics secretary general Robin Sapong said the OAA Competition Commission sees the overlap in the schedule of events as a reason to consider hosting the Micronesian Regional Championships at the same time and venue as the Micronesian Games.

The Oleai Sports Complex track and field facility was supposed to host the 2020 Micronesian Regional Championships, but the event has been suspended indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Contributed Photo)

The 2020 Micronesian Regional Championships, which is held every two years, was supposed to take place on Saipan for the second straight time before it was suspended indefinitely due to the pandemic. The 2022 Micronesian Games, on the other hand, is scheduled to be held in the Marshall Islands between July 10 and Aug. 6.

Combining the Micro Games, which has athletics as one of its events, and the Micronesian Regional Championship, according to OAA may help address funding issues that will be a cause of concerns for countries which have commitments to other competitions outside the regional meets.

Besides the Micronesian tournaments, OAA-member nations like the CNMI are looking at participating in two world championships events in the next two years, the Melanesian and Polynesian championships, the Tokyo Olympics next year, and the Commonwealth Games (for Nauru and Kiribati). Then there’s the Pacific Mini Games that Saipan is supposed to host next year, but has been tentatively moved to 2022.

Runners compete in the 1,500m race during the 2018 Micronesian Regional Championships at the Oleai Sports Complex. (Contributed Photo)

For the athletics events in the Pacific Mini Games and Micronesian Games, OAA is looking at working with organizers to have the two competitions’ dates “very close to each other or as far apart as possible.”

All these options are subject for negotiations among the concerned parties and Sapong was quick to point out that before any decision is made on the dates of the competitions, there is a need to have a post COVID-19 risk assessment.

The OAA head, in a separate interview World Athletics (formerly International Association of Athletics Federations), said that there should be a risk assessment manager for any competition for the safety of athletes, coaches, support staff, and spectators.

“That may be the only way that we can really move forward,” Sapong said, as he discussed with World Athletics’ Bob Ramsak the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to the Oceania area. “It’s really good that World Athletics has issued the outbreak prevention outlines so we can work with local authorities to organize events.”

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.
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