French territories gearing up for Mini Games

Pacific Mini Games Organizing Committee chief executive officer Vicente “Ben” Babauta

Pacific Mini Games Organizing Committee chief executive officer Vicente “Ben” Babauta, seen here during the recent Northern Marianas Sports Association general membership meeting, said New Caledonia and Tahiti are excited for next year’s Pacific Mini Games in the CNMI. (MARK RABAGO)

Pacific Mini Games Organizing Committee chief executive officer Vicente “Ben” Babauta said the French territories of New Caledonia and Tahiti can’t wait to take part in the quadrennial games the CNMI will be hosting for the very first time next year.

“They’re actually arranging their charter flights already. New Caledonia and Tahiti are gearing up for their arrival and they’re quite excited. They’re heading north this time instead of going south,” he said.

Based on the latest numerical count update last June 30, New Caledonia will be sending 108 athletes and officials to the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022. Tahiti, meanwhile, said it has a 136 strong delegation.

In all, 1,899 athletes and officials from 21 island nations have so far confirmed their participation in the Mini Games. Broken down they are made up of 1,425 athletes, 266 team officials, 130 PGA (Pacific Games association) officials, 52 medical staff, and 20 media personnel.

By country, the largest delegation is from the Solomon Islands with 212 athletes and officials, followed by Papua New Guinea with 172, host CNMI with 164, Fiji with 153, Guam with 144, Palau with 140, Tahiti with the aforementioned 136, Samoa with 122, New Caledonia with the aforementioned 108, American Samoa with 75, Wallis & Futuna with 66, Cook Islands with 65, Tonga with 63, Tuvalu with 52, Nauru with 47, Vanuatu with 41, Federated States of Micronesia with 40, Kiribati with 35, Norfolk Islands with 29, Niue with 18, and Marshall Islands with 17.

Babauta said ultimately he expects the number of athletes and officials expected for the 2022 Mini Games to balloon to over 2,000 as Australia and New Zealand didn’t submit their numbers in the June 30 update as they were still coming off participation from the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. The organizing committee will get a better picture of the numerical count by the end of this week.

“We sent out another reminder for the Dec. 17 update. We’re looking forward for that this week. It’s quite exciting because we will be receiving the new numeral entries then,” he said.

In related news, Babauta said aside from triathlon being held on Rota, Tinian will also be hosting the consolation matches for beach volleyball in next year’s Mini Games.

“The main games will be on Saipan and then the consolation games will be on Tinian. Will probably bring 4-5 teams there. The matches that will be played there are for fourth, fifth, and sixth places,” he said.

As far as tryouts and training being conducted by the nine sports that will see action in the 2022 Mini Games, Babauta said he’s been assured that all tryouts and training are being done in accordance with the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force protocols.

“Each federation is responsible to make sure each athlete taking part is vaccinated, fully vaccinated for that matter. Thankfully most of the events are outdoor and social distancing will be practiced and the most important thing is when they come into a smaller venue they will be required to mask up. It’s well practiced like any other events coming up.”

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

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