The Pacific Mini Games 2022 Organizing Committee said nearly 1,900 athletes and officials from 21 island nations have so far confirmed their participation in the quadrennial sports event the CNMI is hosting next year.
According to a numeral count prepared by the organizing committee last June 30, a total of 1,899 made up of 1,425 athletes, 266 team officials, 130 PGA (Pacific Games association) officials, 52 medical staff, and 20 media will descend to the Commonwealth to partake in the Mini Games.
Pacific Mini Games 2022 Organizing Committee chair Marco Peter expects the number to go up as Australia and New Zealand have yet to submit their delegation numbers for the Mini Games.
“With our current participation numbers at about 1,900, we are anticipating to exceed the 2,000 mark as we wait for a couple more countries to submit their final numbers,” he said.
The former lawmaker also enjoined the entire CNMI community to welcome the athletes and officials of the coming Mini Games with open arms as the islands host this one-of-a-kind sporting event.
“Since our first initial meeting organizing the Pacific Games committee, I came to realize that the best sporting event in Oceania will be hosted by our great CNMI and I encourage our whole community and businesses to give our 2022 Pacific Games Organizing Committee their full support, as we prepare to accommodate our visiting brothers and sisters from throughout the Pacific.”
Pacific Mini Games 2022 Organizing Committee CEO Vicente “Ben” Babauta, for his part, is excited with the latest head count for the 11th staging of the Mini Games that also marks the first time the CNMI will be hosting the regional sports competition.
“Over 1,400 athletes and the rest are officials and support team/Pacific Games association representatives are coming to the CNMI for the Mini Games…I’m excited and looking forward to very good competition for each of the events,” he said.
Of the 21 island nations that have so far confirmed, 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 136, Samoa with 122, New Caledonia with 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 they are still waiting on confirmations from Australia and New Zealand, hinting that it may come after the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, while adding that Tokelau most likely will beg off from taking part in the Mini Games next year.
In terms of sports, the most athletes confirmed is in va’a or outrigger canoe with 294, followed by weightlifting with 218, athletics with 216, baseball with 136, tennis with 128, badminton with 108, golf with 108, beach volleyball with 64, and triathlon with 53.
As far as accommodations go, Babauta said the organizing committee is in close contact with the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands to properly welcome athletes and officials with satisfactory living quarters during their stay in the islands. He said Marianas High School, which in the 2006 Micronesian Games served as athletes village, will now be the galley and meeting area for athletes.
Aside from the Coral Ocean Golf Resort as the venue for golf, Babauta also said that the other eight sports in the 2022 Mini Games events calendar have also found venues and they are the following—Oleai track and field for athletics, Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium for badminton, Francisco “Tan Ko” M. Baseball Field for baseball, Crowne Plaza Resort for beach volleyball, American Memorial Park and Pacific Islands Club Saipan for tennis, Saipan World Resort for weightlifting, Garapan Fishing Base for va’a, and Rota for triathlon.
Peter added that hosting a successful Mini Games is a perfect capstone in the CNMI’s road to recovery following Typhoon Soudelor in 2015, Super Typhoon Yutu in 2018, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic since 2020
“Let me emphasize that this will be the first-ever hosting of this magnitude and we don’t know if will ever get this kind of opportunity in the near future. I am beyond ecstatic that our community will rise up from the challenges that we have lived through since 2015. We are Marianas Strong!”