Guam is welcoming a host of National Olympic Committees (NOCs) from Oceania to its shores for a weeklong series of workshops to strategise on the delivery of sport funding and programmes for athletes in the Pacific Islands.

Ricardo Blas, Secretary-General of the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) and President of the Guam National Olympic Committee (GNOC) is hosting the ONOC Secretaries-General Workshop from 8 to 11 March on Guam.

This will be followed by an overnight visit on 12 to 13 March to the Northern Marianas to meet the Organising Committee of the SAIPAN 2022 Pacific Mini Games. It will also include a site visit to the venues of the upcoming Games.

Blas said, “The ONOC Secretaries-General Workshop is held once every four years, at the beginning of the Olympic quadrennium; this one has been delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of the TOKYO 2020 Games which was held last year.

“This Workshop is different because for the first time, we’re also bringing in Finance Officers, Sport Development Officers, and Sport Education Officers from our NOCs for specialist training to improve implementation of the Olympic Solidarity Programme in the Pacific Islands.”

In addition, Blas shared that, “ONOC President Robin Mitchell and I had a few discussions on how to move forward regarding having to deliver the Olympic Solidarity Programme under COVID-19 conditions.

“My challenge was to work under protocols and whether I would get the acceptable number of close to half of our members to the table in person, and we deliver a hybrid workshop.

“We are behind by two and half years already and I’m taking into consideration even before the Tokyo Games, NOCs who struggle to make use of the funds available.”

Blas said, “We are working to strengthen finance, now we have Finance Officers on board; we are working to strengthen the delivery of the sport education programme, we now have Sport Education Officers; and then one of the driving forces for any NOC, the Sport Development Officer whose role is not to develop sport but to coordinate the development of sport – all these positions are paid for by ONOC.”
“Taking these experiences, our team decided to design this Workshop to enable the joint planning of the delivery of the Olympic Solidarity Programme, so we’ll look at sharing of learnings through NOC case studies to enable exchange.”

Blas said, “I am confident we will succeed because the key support team in any NOC to support the Secretary-General in the delivery of programmes will all be here on Guam with other members joining online, and we will work out solutions to improve from our lessons learned.”

The Oceania National Olympic Committees comprise 17 Members and six Associate Members. Members attending in person include the NOCs of the Cook Islands (COK), Fiji (FIJ), Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Guam (GUM), Nauru (NRU), Palau (PLW), and Papua New Guinea (PNG). Associate Member, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI) is attending as host of the SAIPAN 2022 Pacific Mini Games.

Members attending online are NOCs of American Samoa (ASA), Kiribati (KIR), Marshall Islands (MHL), Samoa (SAM), Solomon Islands (SOL), Tonga (TGA), Tuvalu (TUV), and Vanuatu (VAN).

The Secretaries-General Workshop leads to the ONOC Annual General Assembly (AGA) which over the last two years, have been held virtually due to the pandemic. However, this year’s will be held in Nadi, Fiji in May and will have the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach in attendance.

The last ONOC Secretaries-General Workshop was held on Guam in 2017, following the RIO 2016 Olympic Games, marking the start of the 2017 – 2020 Olympic Quadrennium.

The ONOC headquarters is based on Guam, the home country of its Secretary-General Ricardo Blas. Its Technical Secretariat is based in Suva, Fiji where ONOC President Robin Mitchell is based.