Inclusion of three sports tennis, weightlifting, and va’a in 2022 Pacific Mini Games approved

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Pacific Games Council has approved the CNMI’s request to include three more sports—tennis, weightlifting, and va’a (outrigger canoe)—to the calendar of events for the 2022 Pacific Mini Games in the CNMI.

Andrew Minogue, Pacific Games Council chief executive officer, confirmed the council’s decision to approve the CNMI’s request following the local government’s financial commitment of US$4 million in the staging of the quadrennial event from July 17 to 25 next year.

“The Pacific Games Council is delighted to agree to the request of Gov. [Ralph DLG] Torres and [the Northern Marianas Sports Association] to add three sports back onto the program for the 2022 Pacific Mini Games in the CNMI. Tennis, va’a, and weightlifting were removed after the devastation of Super Typhoon Yutu when all efforts were made to keep the Games alive with a reduced sports program. PGC is very grateful to Gov. Torres for finding the additional funds that will enable these three sports to be hosted once more,” he said in an email to Saipan Tribune.

Minogue said there will be 24 nations expected to send athletes in the 11th staging of the Pacific Mini Games. This includes the 22 full members of the Pacific Games Council—American Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Norfolk Island, New Caledonia, the CNMI, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna—plus its two associate members—Australia and New Zealand.

The Pacific Games Council’s decision to reinstate tennis, weightlifting, and va’a to the calendar events of next year’s Mini Games was welcomed by all three sports federations.

Northern Marianas National Paddle Sports Federation president Justin Andrew said they are proud to be included in the CNMI’s first-ever hosting of the Mini Games.

“We are super excited about this and the NMNPSF has started the leg to ensure successful hosting of va’a in the Mini Games. It’s the CNMI’s first hosting of the Mini Games and we look forward to having regional athletes come and compete in our pristine lagoon. We are also excited about what the legacy of having va’a in the Mini Games will leave for us…the future of the sport in the CNMI can only be brighter with this,” he told Saipan Tribune.

He also extended NMNPSF’s gratitude to Torres and the Pacific Games Council for their decision to include va’a in the Mini Games sports calendar.

“We thank our governor and his leadership for making this happen. We also thank the Pacific Games Council and everyone else for this opportunity to showcase our local paddling athletes and to host our paddling sisters and brothers from the Pacific region….it will be a memorable time for us all…….and our federation looks forward to the work ahead to ensure hosting of va’a is successful,” said Andrew.

Northern Mariana Islands Tennis Federation president and many time CNMI National Tennis coach Jeff Race said he couldn’t be more delighted in seeing his sport participate in the 2022 Mini Games.

“That’s great to hear. We will put on a tennis event to remember. The core of our team from the 2019 Games will be returning and they should be even better than they were then. I believe that there are medals in the CNMI teams future at these Games,” he said.

CNMI Weightlifting president John Davis, for his part, said he’s happy to find out that his sport is finally back in the Mini Games following a two-year wait.

“We’re all smiles and giggles after learning of the decision that weightlifting is back in the sports calendar of the 2020 Pacific Mini Games… It really means a great deal to our federation especially in the heels of our suspension from the IWF (International Weightlifting Federation) being lifted…Now, we get to work and we will get it done to host a successful weightlifting event,” he said.

The CNMI originally backed out from hosting the then 2021 Pacific Mini Games following the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yutu in 2017. The CNMI was then persuaded to continue with its hosting duties following an agreement with the Pacific Games Council that it will be holding a scaled-down Mini Games instead with the budget decreasing from $8 million to $3 million.

Before the re-inclusion of tennis, weightlifting, and va’a, the events calendar for the 2022 Mini Games was made up of only athletics, baseball, badminton, beach volleyball, golf, and triathlon.

SOURCE: SAIPAN TRIBUNE/PACNEWS