Australia eyes sending athletics, weightlifting teams

Posted on Feb 25 2022

Staff performs maintenance on the countdown clock for the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022 at the Oleai Sports Complex in Oleai.(MARK RABAGO)

With 115 days to go before the start of the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022, Australia and New Zealand finally have given an idea of what teams they’ll be sending to 11th staging of the quadrennial event.

Pacific Games Organizing Committee CEO Vicente “Ben” Babauta said Australia is looking at taking part in two sports in the Mini Games, while they’re still not sure what teams New Zealand will be sending in the competition set from June 17 to 25.

“Australia will be sending their athletics and weightlifting teams, but I’ve yet to see the number of athletes from Australia. For New Zealand, they will be communicating directly with the games organizing committee as they will be soon reaching out to the individual federations that will be attending. However, my understanding is they will be sending beach volleyball and weightlifting,” he said.

Aside from sending athletes to the Mini Games, Australia and New Zealand will also be sending their technical officials to the Mini Games, which the CNMI will be hosting for the first time ever.

“The entire Oceania region is assisting us with technical delegates and the international federations and their group of technical staff will be assisting us in the Mini Games through different sports,” he said.

Babauta also said the Pacific Games Council hasn’t determined yet how many athletes from Tokelau they will help in sending to the Mini Games.

“Tokelau is normally is a small country. From my understanding and based on previous Mini Games they average about 6-8 athletes,” he said, while adding that aside from PGC grants to athletes, grants are also available from Oceania National Olympic Committee as far as travel assistance goes.

Asked if the games organizing committee will implement strict protocols for COVID-19 once delegations start coming in, Babauta said the bare minimum is that participants—athletes and officials—should be vaccinated and have taken booster shots.

“Proof vaccination and booster shots…Part of the requirement are athletes and officials must be fully vaccinated and also booster, including NMI athletes…No more quarantine and no more five-day quarantine… I’m also crossing my fingers that the entire pandemic improves by that time,” he said.

And talking about delegations coming in, Tahiti has already chartered a flight and they’ll be arriving on June 15, according to the games organizing committee CEO.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at

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