If the CNMI misses its chance to host the 2021 Pacific Mini Games, the Pacific Games Council believes if may take a long while before the quadrennial competition comes to the Commonwealth.
“We can’t tell you when you will have it,” PGC chief executive officer Andrew Minogue said during a press conference on the status of Saipan’s hosting of event last Tuesday at the conference room of the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
Minogue and PGC president Vidhya Lakhan left the island yesterday after meeting with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, and Northern Marianas Sports Association for two days. The visitors are hoping that the CNMI government will reconsider its earlier decision on withdrawing its support to Saipan’s hosting of the Mini Games.
While the Commonwealth has one month to decide whether to push through with hosting the event for the first time or back out, Minogue said PGC is now preparing the process for selecting the host for the 2025 Pacific Mini Games. The PGC official added that Palau is one of the countries interested in hosting the competition.
As for the 2021 Pacific Mini Games, at least two countries are also waiting in the wings if the CNMI formally gives up its hosting rights. Minogue declined to name the two nations.
The Commonwealth won the bid to host the 2021 Mini Games in 2014 after losing a close battle against Vanuatu, which had the 2017 edition of the meet. After missing the 2017 competition, the CNMI vowed to come back and try again and according to Minogue, other nations did not submit bids for the 2021 tournament to give way to the Commonwealth.
Then just when everything was going well with the CNMI’s preparation for the Games Super Typhoon Yutu came in October last year, causing massive damage to both Saipan and Tinian, including the facilities that are supposed to host the 12 sports to be played in the Mini Games. Five months after Yutu flattened the islands, Torres announced that the government is pulling out its support to Saipan’s hosting of the 2021 Mini Games to prioritize the continued recovery efforts in the CNMI.
PGC understood the situation and sympathized with the Commonwealth, but is still hopeful that the islands’ door is still open for the Mini Games.
“I hope this is the opportunity (hosting) that the CNMI will take because we don’t know when the Games will be back. Think carefully of our proposals (scaling down the Mini Games and suggesting revenue initiatives to offset the costs of hosting). We are presenting an affordable and manageable Mini Games that will leave a legacy in the CNMI,” Minogue said.
He added that members of the Pacific Games family will surely support the competition and surplus funds (from participation fees and sponsorships) from hosting the event can be used to help in the recovery efforts in the CNMI.