‘CNMI came through with flying colors’

Posted on Jun 20 2022

The CNMI delegation to the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022 greets visitors, spectators, and VIP dignitaries in the main grandstand of the Oleai track and field during the opening ceremony last Friday. Inset right shows the Games cauldron after being lit by NMSA Hall of Famer Dr. Kurt Barnes. Other inset shows Pacific Games Council president Vidya Lakhan addressing the crowd.(MARK RABAGO)

Pacific Games Council president Vidya Lakhan praised the CNMI last Friday during the opening ceremony of the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022 for delivering on its hosting of the Games despite the many obstacles that blocked the path to last Friday’s ceremony at the Oleai Sports Complex.

“Despite the challenges due to [super typhoons] Soudelor and Yutu followed by obstacles brought to our path by the  COVID-19 pandemic, the CNMI rose to the challenge and they came through with flying colors,” he said in his welcoming remarks.

As late as last year, it was up in air whether the Northern Marianas could even host the Games after postponing it from 2021 to 2022 due to COVID-19, he said.

“Some of us were not sure if we would ever meet for the 11th edition of the Pacific Mini Games. Some even doubted the ability of the CNMI to host us all,” he said.

But under the leadership of the Mini Games Organizing Committee, led by chair Marco Peter and CEO Vicente “Ben” Babauta, the CNMI proved all skeptics wrong. “But here we are. My fate in the local people of the Pacific Islands has been vindicated. All critics have been proven wrong.  I also want to single out Gov. Torres for he’s been a tower of strength to our Games Organizing Committee. If it had not been for your support, we probably wouldn’t be in this shape this evening. Please accept our sincerest thanks for your commitment to see this Games through,” he added.

Lakhan also recognized two individuals who in 2014 made it possible to bring the Pacific Mini Games to the CNMI—then-Northern Marianas Sports Association president Michael White and then-lieutenant governor Jude U. Hofschneider.

“The stage is set for what is promising to be an excellent Games. I urge [athletes] to fully participate in this Games as true ambassadors of your respective countries, respecting our value of friendship, integrity, and fair play,” he said.

Peter, who represented the CNMI in golf at the 2019 Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa, initially doubted if he could actually spearhead the successful hosting of the Games.

“As an athlete I know the importance of hard work, practice, and perseverance. By applying those basic principles in organizing the Pacific Mini Games, coupled with the countless support of the governor, stakeholders, and the NMI business community, we stand here today at the opening ceremony of the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games.” he said.

And Peter is promising not only the successful delivery of the Games, but that the CNMI will host a Games everyone would remember.

“[We] didn’t want to provide the bare minimum. We wanted to set the new bar for host nations to follow in the field of play, accommodations, transportation, and food and I’m proud to say we’ve done just that,” he added.

Peter also commended the local business community for donating so selflessly for the Games to be held successfully. “The organizing committee was tasked with obtaining funds needed to host the Games. The committee has exceeded its targeted fundraising beyond our projections. This means more funding to put on this Games.”

For Torres, the Northern Pacific Mini Games 2022 is a shining example of how the peoples of the Pacific and Oceania are truly one people. “Each of our presence and participation commemorates the strengths of our countries and the resilience of our people that enables us to come together stronger in good sportsmanship and respect with our differences and similarities.”

He added that the holding of the Games also proves that the region has beaten back the pandemic. “We have just survived a global pandemic and for many people this was the first time in a long time that they were able to compete regionally. For the CNMI, we used the time of isolation and quarantine to prepare for the Mini Games, to provide our athletes with the state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.”

Torres also commended the athletes for their commitment to health and sports as their training for the Games required hard work and dedication.

“The CNMI is ready to provide you with all the opportunities to showcase your skill and abilities to represent your island and countries.”

With over 3,000 spectators attending the opening ceremony in person and countless more watching the livestream, the opening ceremony highlights included the parade of participating countries, the torch relay coupled with the lighting of the cauldron, cultural dances, and the first ever drone show in NMI history.

“Never have I seen large groups from all over in Oceania coming together and uniting in the Games spirit,” said Peter. “This was truly an auspicious moment for the NMI and the NMI people. We are proud to display all the great things about our home.” (With PR)

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at Mark_Rabago@saipantribune.com
Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.