After making the islands his home for the better part of the past three decades, Saipan Swim Club founder and sports event organizer extraordinaire Wilhelm “Bill” Sakovich returned to Saipan Tuesday night to help with the final preparations for the 6th Micronesian Games.
The NMASA Sports Hall of Fame inductee and executive secretary for the Micronesian Games Organizing Committee said he’s pretty happy that the public and private sectors have both come together to help organize the Games.
“The government and the community seem to be on the right track. Everybody is doing what needs to be done,” he said. “Especially with the times now, the government cannot really afford to put in money, but they certainly have lent their support as far as facilities and personnel are concerned,” he said.
More impressively, Sakovich said the private sector has really come ready to bat for the Games.
“What I’ve heard is that they (Micronesian Games Organizing Committee) are hitting the $200,000-mark. If I’m not mistaken, when we did the 1990 Games we only had a budget of $400,000 budget. But that included a lot of major facility repairs. Today, it’s minimal and the government is doing what it can to upgrade the facilities we have now,” he said,
Sakovich said unlike 16 years ago, Saipan now has more sports facilities and venues to stage the Games.
“I don’t think the sports facilities have been an issue at all. We already have facilities. They may not be in great of shape, but they’re being worked on with minimal expenses. And I wouldn’t have expected the government to construct a new pool or gym either. It wasn’t at all necessary. We’re doing the Games with sports facilities that are already available,” he said
As executive secretary for the MGOC, Sakovich said he will continue with the plan already being implemented and “just work with everybody on matters that need to be attended to more thoroughly.”
“I’m confident that the Games will be a success. There are just a few things that need to be tied up. For one, accommodations need a lot of attention and we’re already working on that. I feel that that’s one of the more critical areas for the Games,” he said.
Sakovich said how the CNMI hosts the over 1,400 athletes and officials expected here for the Games from June 23 to July 2 will have a long and lasting impression on how the islands and its people will be perceived.
“As I said before I don’t care how many gold medals a team wins or how many games they lose, what participants will remember is how the accommodations were. Is there food? Is there water? Does the toilets work? Are there showers? I think that’s why we have to make sure that everything is operating a 110 percent,” he said.
Leaving anew his “retirement home” at Hilo, Hawaii does not seem to bother Sakovich since helping in the Games is all natural to him, having organized sports events here on Saipan the past 30 or so years.
“I’m basically happy to do it. They’re covering all the expenses for me, which is all I really asked for. This is what I’ve been doing here for the past 32 years. I’m happy to do it. I was in Palau last year and I did the same thing. I was in Norfolk Island doing the same thing.”