Though restrictions have been eased during this COVID-19 pandemic, the Northern Marianas National Paddle Sports Federation won’t be taking any chances and would gradually get back into its regular schedule.
“We will regroup and assess things and go from there,” NMNPSF president Justin Andrew said.
Outrigger canoe, paddling, and other water sports are now allowed as amendments to the CNMI COVID-19 Emergency Directives of 2020 have been made, moving the Community Vulnerability Level from “Yellow” to “Blue” or just one step away from the desired level (“Green”).
Andrew acknowledged that they can now return to their sport, but still need to be cautious and follow safety guidelines, including limiting the number of people gathering for an event and following social distancing rules.
“We are told to ensure no sick paddlers are allowed to paddle by taking temperatures and continuing to practice social distancing and other important safety practices,” the paddling group head said.
Andrew added that though they can now do groups rides, there will be no tournaments and big events in the near future and instead they will focus for on trainings/practices. Paddlers are also encouraged to continue their land-based training.
If not for this pandemic, CNMI paddlers would have been holding series of races to prepare for the 2020 Micronesia Cup, which is scheduled this October in Guam.
Andrew said they have yet to hear updates on the competition from Guam organizers and they would have to inquire whether the tournament will push through or not under the circumstances that we are in now.
Last year, Palau hosted the Micro Cup with Saipan Paddling Club representing the CNMI and winning silver medals in the 1,000m sprints for both men and women’s races and the men and women’s distance events, and bronze in the men’s 500m sprint.
The Micro Cup is held annually with Guam, Palau, and the CNMI taking turns in hosting the event. The 2018 edition of the canoe competition was supposed to take place on Saipan, but the tournament was canceled as Super Typhoon Yutu slammed the islands just a few days before the races began. Beside the three island-nations, paddlers from Hong Kong, Australia, and Japan are also invited in the competition.