The Pacific Games Council is confident that the CNMI is still capable of hosting the 2021 Pacific Mini Games despite the massive damage sustained by the various sports facilities on Saipan from Super Typhoon Yutu.
“The Pacific Games Council is very supportive of the 2021 Pacific Mini Games being in and remaining on Saipan. We have made contact with NMASA and asked for a full briefing in due course,” PGC chief executive officer Andrew Minogue told Saipan Tribune.
The Oleai Sports Complex, which is the proposed main venue for the Mini Games, suffered extensive damage from the Category 5 typhoon that slammed Saipan and Tinian late Wednesday evening to Thursday morning. The fence of the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios and Miguel “Tan Ge” Basa Pangelinan ballfields were knocked down and bleachers were crushed. The entire fence of the sports complex was in shambles, while the track oval is also in bad shape. Glass windows and roofs at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium broke, too.
The track was just opened for competition early this year after the completion of the resurfacing work in late 2017, while the Ada Gym has yet to undergo the scheduled renovation since Typhoon Soudelor damaged the facility in 2015. The Marianas High School Gymnasium, which is also one of the venues eyed for the Mini Games, was hit by the super typhoon, too.
Despite the destruction brought by Yutu to these facilities, the PGC believes they can be repaired in time for Saipan’s hosting of the Mini Games.
“The great strength of the CNMI bid was that Saipan already has great sports facilities and whilst there might be some damage and cleanups needed, we are certain that every effort will be made to have the facilities in good order for 2021. It is very normal in our Pacific Games host countries for some venues to be ready only a matter of weeks before the competition. CNMI has plenty of time,” Minogue said.
The PGC official also encouraged the Commonwealth to take a cue from Vanuatu, which was struck by a similar Category 5 typhoon (Cyclone Pam) two years before it hosted the 2017 Pacific Mini Games.
“Please recall Vanuatu was devastated by Cyclone Pam only two years before they hosted the 2017 Mini Games. PGC gave them plenty of time to recover and get their facilities back together,” Minogue said.
“PGC will be making a follow-up visit to Saipan early next year but we want to assure your media and your government that we are behind you all the way to continue hosting the 2021 Games. Our best wishes to the people of Saipan and Tinian after the major cyclone. I hope recovery efforts are going well,” he added.
Meanwhile, Northern Marianas Sports Association thanked PGC for its full support and expressed confidence in delivering the Mini Games on Saipan.
“NMSA is in complete agreement with the comments made by executive director Minogue, and we appreciate the support of the Pacific Games Council. Despite the damage we have suffered, our spirit is indomitable and our will is strong. NMSA has every reason to believe that we will not only be ready for 2021, but that our Games will be great. Biba Marianas!” NMSA president Michael White said.