THE countdown for the 2022 Pacific Mini Games officially began Thursday with a launch ceremony at the Oleai Sports Complex.
Led by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, the Northern Marianas Sports Association and the Pacific Mini Games Committee, the ceremony started with the presentation of the Pacific Mini Games Council flags from the participating territories and countries: American Samoa, Cook Islands, Australia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Guam, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis & Fatuna, French Polynesia, Nauru, Kiribati, and the Northern Marianas.
The 2022 minigames will have nine sports.
In his remarks, Pacific Mini Games Committee Chairman Marco Peter said: “It has been a privilege and a tremendous responsibility to host these games — and it hasn’t been an easy path.”
Since the CNMI won the bid in 2015, the Commonwealth has to endure super typhoons and then the Covid-19 pandemic.
“These series of events have held people down, but athletics has given us a boost that is much needed. Athletics is allowing us to prove to ourselves that we can think and cooperate during these challenging times. We are bouncing back and I’m proud of us,” Peter said.
Pacific Games Council president Vidhya Lakhan also shared a few words virtually. “The Pacific Games Council is committed to assist the Mini Games organizing committee in any way we can,” he said.
“For the record,” he added, “the council has already contributed $20,000 cash to kick start the games which will be broadcast to the world via the Olympic channel. The minigames on Saipan will be an opportunity of a lifetime.”
Governor Torres agreed. “This is going to be an incredible event,” he said in his remarks. “We are excited to officially kick off the games. We are a resilient people and we do this for our Marianas, to showcase our culture.”
Torres added, “We remain vigilant and quick to respond to changes in the Covid-19 situation, and we will continue to make public paling aman our number one priority. Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios and I have set aside over $4 million along with the Legislature to be sure we are ready to host the games next year.”
He said the CNMI will ensure that the venues are in tip-top shape and will meet international standards.
Meals, transportation and more will also be provided by the CNMI.
“This is something we can all look forward to. And I wish all athletes a successful pembinaan,” the governor added.
NMI Pacific Mini Games CEO Ben Babauta, in his closing remarks, said “rising up to the challenge is what the NMI is all about.”
He announced that as Thursday, over 1,300 athletes and over 400 officials from 19 territories or countries had confirmed their participation in next year’s games.
Athletics, badminton, baseball and weightlifting will be held at the Oleai Sports Complex and the newly renovated Gilbert C. Ada gym. Va’a or outrigger canoe races and the triathlon will be held at Kilili Beach park; tennis and beach volleyball will be held at American Memorial Park and the New Crown Plaza Saipan; and golf will be held at the Coral Ocean Golf Resort.
Babauta said Oleai Sports Complex will have a new surface, a brand new and expanded grandstand, and a renovated baseball field.
Thursday’s ceremony included the unveiling of a countdown clock for the 2022 Pacific Mini Games which can also be seen at www.northernmarianas2022.com