‘ONOC impressed with sports venues’
Officials from the Oceania National Olympic Committees and the Guam National Olympic Committee who were on island to conduct a workshop also toured the sports venues that will be used for the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022.
Mini Games organizing committee CEO Vicente “Ben” Babauta said Oceania Sport Education Program Regional master educator Joey Miranda III, Oceania National Olympic Committees officer in charge/chief admin officer Meli Cavu, and ONOC chief communications officer Inoke Bainimarama came out impressed after visiting the venues for tennis, beach volleyball, va’a or outrigger canoe, and golf.
“Overall, they’re impressed with all the venues and what the organizing committee has been doing to get ourselves ready for the Mini Games…They’re confident that most of the facilities, especially those outside the [Oleai Sports Complex], will be ready.”
For example, Babauta said the American Memorial Park tennis court will be resurfaced in the latter part of October and November. He added that they did a walkthrough of the beach volleyball venue at Crowne Plaza Resort and that the place is just perfect for the sport.
“We are one of the few Mini Games hosts that actually have actual sand on the beach for beach volleyball,” he said.
Babauta said Miranda, Cavu, and Bainimarama also had nice words to say about the Mini Games facilities for golf and va’a.
“We visited Coral Ocean Resort for golf and even the va’a location over at the Garapan shore line fronting J.P. Center and they were also impressed.”
He, however, admitted that the organizing committee is a bit behind in the repairs for the Francisco “Tan’Ko” M. Palacios Baseball Field, which will host the baseball competition of the Mini Games.
“The challenge now is obviously the Oleai Sports Complex and ensuring the grants from the [Federal Emergency Management Agency] goes through and actually deliver what needs to be repaired such as resurfacing of the track and field and most importantly the baseball [field].”
Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium, which will host badminton, will also finally be air-conditioned for the Mini Games.
Babauta also explained the venue change for weightlifting from Saipan World Resort to the Marianas High School Gymnasium,
“We expect the new air-conditioning system at MHS to be installed starting in November and completed by December. So that’s going to be Mini Games-ready…Weightlifting will no longer be at Saipan World Resort after the international federation thought the original venue is not suitable because it lacks a warm-up area next to the stage and the overall ambiance is too narrow for the event.”
Northern Marianas Sports Association executive director Carli Sablan said they are continuing to work with the Public Assistance Office to fast-track the repair of facilities at the Oleai Sports Complex, especially the baseball field.
“Our athletes need proper facilities and equipment to train in order to deliver their best during the Mini Games. It is our understanding that the design work is just about done and projects are soon to get off the ground,” she said.