The CNMI’s hosting of the 2021 Mini Games has been signed, sealed, and delivered after the CNMI government finally agreed to financially back the regional quadrennial sporting event next year.
Press secretary Kevin Bautista said last Monday that the contract guaranteeing the CNMI government’s financial support for the Mini Games sent by the Pacific Games Council has been signed by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and the Attorney General Edward E. Manibusan.
Aside from the financial commitment, which amount he didn’t divulge, Bautista added that the Torres administration will make sure the sports facilities for the Mini Games will be ready for the islands’ first-ever hosting of the event.
“The administration will continue its work through federal disaster grants it has received to rebuild and expand the Oleai Sports Complex for the [Mini] Games,” he said.
The Oleai Sports Complex is expected to be the main venue for the 2021 Mini Games.
The signing of the contract formally gives a go-signal for the CNMI’s hosting of the Mini Games and ends months of uncertainty. The Torres administration earlier backed out of the hosting due to the destruction the islands sustained in the wake of Super Typhoon Yutu in 2018.
Fortunately, the governor had a change of heart after meeting with stakeholders and receiving a revised expenditure plan that would delay the release of majority of the funds for the Mini Games to 2021.
“The goal is to have the Marianas ready for the Mini Games in 2021. The administration remains committed to giving our athletes this unique opportunity to represent the CNMI here at home, as well as showcase their athletic skills, talents, and abilities in front of the rest of Oceania,” said Bautista.
Pacific Games Council chief executive officer Andrew Minogue welcomed the Torres administration’s signing of the contractual agreement to host the Mini Games.
“The PGC is very happy to have the support of the Torres administration for its hosting of the 2021 Pacific Mini Games. The athletes of the Pacific are looking forward to coming to Saipan next year,” he said in an email to Saipan Tribune.
Minogue said the contractual agreement is designed to get preparations back on track since not a lot of organizational activity has occurred since the Mini Games were awarded to the CNMI back in 2014.
“An injection of public funds is required early this year so that the organizing committee can appoint a CEO and get preparations moving. The administration can confirm the amount of funds required,” he said.
One of the conditions that brought the CNMI and Torres back to the negotiating table for hosting the Mini Games was the council acquiescing to a scaled-down version of the event. From the initial $8 million, the total budget for hosting the Mini Games was cut to $3 million and the events featured trimmed to six sports—athletics, baseball, badminton, beach volleyball, golf, and triathlon.
Minogue said the CNMI should expect somewhere around 1,000 athletes and officials from 24 countries for the 2021 Mini Games next year.