‘Waiting game’ for Mini Games


In this file photo, Northern Marianas Sports Association president Michael White, fourth left, receives the Pacific Mini Games flag at the closing ceremonies of the 2017 Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu. (Pacific Games Council Photo)

The Northern Marianas Sports Association is still waiting for the governor’s appointees to the 2021 Pacific Mini Games’ oversight committee to move forward with the preparations for the CNMI’s hosting of the quadrennial event.

During NMSA’s monthly meeting last Thursday, president Michael White informed the board that they have yet to get a response from from Gov. Ralph DLG Torres regarding their request for the appointment of three individuals who would join NMASA officials in the oversight committee of the Mini Games. White also said that NMSA has yet to form an organizing committee because they have yet to receive seed money from the government. Both committees are crucial in fast-tracking the Commonwealth’s preparations for the Mini Games.

“We are still, despite several requests, waiting for the governor to appoint three members to the oversight committee to provide us with some seed money that we can use to get the organizing committee started. Basically, not much has been done on the 2021 Games,” the NMSA president said.

NMSA raised these concerns, as it is set to meet with Pacific Games Council officials next month. The visitors are expected to inspect facilities, discuss the latest updates in terms of preparation, and finalize the list of games that will be offered in Mini Games.

Saipan Tribune reached out to the Torres administration through press secretary Kevin Bautista, but the government, as of press time last night, has yet to release an official statement on NMSA’s request.

NMSA and the CNMI government have to redo the oversight committee after the latter withdrew from its commitment to Saipan’s hosting of the Mini Games only to reconsider the decision later.

The Commonwealth was awarded the hosting rights of the Mini Games for the first time in 2014. Then early last year, an oversight committee made up of government officials and members of the business and sports communities, was formed, only to be dissolved when the government, in March this year, announced it’s backing out from hosting the Mini Games. Torres said there’s a greater need to focus the CNMI’s resources to the recovery efforts from Super Typhoon Yutu thus the government decided to pull the plug on the Mini Games.

However, two months later and after meeting with PGC officials and being presented with a scaled down Mini Games, including slicing the budget from $8 million to $3 million, the governor said the CNMI will go ahead with the hosting of the event.

On July 14, during the PGC general assembly in Apia, Samoa, the 2021 Mini Games on Saipan was reaffirmed by the Pacific Games Association members. PGC officials led by chief executive officer Andrew Minogue, were then initially scheduled to visit Saipan this month to get updates on the preparations for the Games before pushing back their travel plans to next month.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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