Six month delay on the cards for Pacific Mini Games

The 2021 Pacific Mini Games may be pushed back six months to narrowly miss clashing with the Tokyo Olympics, amid international postponements caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hosts, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), began looking to shift the six-sport event back in April, after Japan’s decision to postpone the Olympics an entire year.

Pacific Games Council President Vidhya Lakhan said the new dates would give athletes time to retrain and prepare for both events.

He has asked the Olympic Committee and Governor of Saipan to defer the games, but no decision has been announced yet.

C.N.M.I. initially tried to hand over the Mini Games to another country after Super Typhoon Yutu hit the island in October 2018, announcing in July 2019 the country would withdraw from the games.

They went back on that decision after talking to the Pacific Games Council and instead the event lost half the sporting events to make for easier preparations.

The 2021 Games will feature athletics, badminton, baseball, beach volleyball, golf and the triathalon.

Last hosted in Vanuatu in 2017, the Pacific Mini Games are run every four years, with 24 island nations participating.

Mr. Lakhan has previously expressed concern the COVID-19 pandemic will mean a smaller turnout for 2021.

He said he hopes all countries will be represented but accepts their delegations may be smaller. 

“As soon as travel restrictions are uplifted we hope to make a quick trip to Saipan to assess their readiness to host the games, to see the Games can be held in May or June or do we have to look at alternative dates, maybe after the Olympic dates, which is a possibility,” Mr. Lakhan said.

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