Northern Marianas Athletics president Ramon Tebuteb welcomes the Pacific Games Council and Pacific Games Association’s prompt decision to approve the new schedule for the CNMI-hosted Pacific Mini Games as this will give all the stakeholders the cue to move forward with their preparations for the quadrennial event.
Tebuteb said that in the past months since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the fate of the Mini Games hung in the balance. Concerns on safety, funding, and conflict of schedules were raised and had to be considered before coming up with the decision. Fortunately, negotiations were made and the parties involved, including the CNMI government, Northern Marianas Sports Association, and the 22 PGA members, agreed to have the competition from June 17 to 25 in 2022 instead of June 2021.
“The Mini Games is indeed coming to the CNMI in 2022,” said Tebuteb, whose sport is one of the six events initially included in the program for the 2022 Mini Games.
“It’s a bitter-sweet one for me, personally. I am happy that we will be able to go ahead with the hosting of the Mini Games for the first time, but we have to do the preparations under these challenging situation—with the threat of the pandemic still there. Bottomline, this undertaking (hosting of the Mini Games), will require the help and cooperation of everyone in our community so we will be able to deliver the Games and battle through this pandemic,” the former lawmaker said.
As for NMA, Tebuteb said the association’s board has to meet to discuss the new schedule and work on a plan for athletes, coaches, and the people/organizations that will be involved in the preparations for the competitions at the Oleai Sports Complex’s track and field.
Athletics is a medal-rich event and the CNMI has consistently sent athletes to track competitions in both the Pacific Games and Mini Games. NMA, however, fielded only a few athletes in the past editions of the Pacific Games and Mini Games, but with the CNMI hosting the latter, the Commonwealth will have more entries and better chances of winning medals.
In the 2019 Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa, Zarinae Sapong, Lia Rangamar, Traven Quitugua, and Beo Ngirchongor were the CNMI’s representatives in the athletics competition. Ngirchongor and Sapong were also members of Team Marianas in the 2017 Pacific Mini Games held in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Completing the athletics squad in the Mini Games was Jamie Pangelinan.
Besides athletics, the five others sports initially included on the 2022 Mini Games program were baseball, badminton, beach volleyball, golf, and triathlon. The PCG and PGA, depending on the development with the pandemic and the travel restrictions in the region, may meet on Saipan next year to discuss other matters related to the 2022 Mini Games, including the possible addition of events in the sports program.