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Six sports will feature on a scaled down programme at the 2021 Pacific Mini Games in the Northern Mariana Islands, which is seeking to recover from the impact of Super Typhoon Yutu last year.
The typhoon struck in October, causing significant damage on the island on Saipan, which is due to host the Games.
It led to Ralph Torres, Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands, announcing earlier this year that the Government would withdraw from hosting the Games to concentrate on the recovery efforts.
Following discussions with the Pacific Games Council (PGC), Torres reversed the decision and committed to staging the event on the islands for the first time.
A total of 12 sports had initially been due to feature on the programme for the Games.
Under the revised plan only six sports will feature, including athletics, baseball, badminton, beach volleyball, golf and triathlon.
Swimming and weightlifting are among those to miss out, having initially been included on the programme.
PGC chief executive Andrew Minogue expressed hope that a couple of the omitted sports may be able to return to the programme, should funds become available.
"The six sports that got omitted will have the chance to come back on the programme if additional funds can be found," Minogue told insidethegames.
"We can't make any promises about that at the moment, but I would be hopeful at least one or two could come back onto the programme."
The last edition of the Games took place in Vanuatu in 2017, where athletes competed across 14 sports at the multi-sport event.
Vanuatu had beaten the Northern Mariana Islands for the right to stage the 2017 Games, after a second round vote.
Both candidates had finished level after the opening round of voting, which had seen Nauru eliminated.
Minogue believes the narrow defeat for the Northern Mariana Islands has contributed to PGC members giving their blessing for a reduced programme in 2021.
The PGC chief executive believes that despite the issues, the Northern Mariana Islands will have the ability to host a successful Games and comfortably house athletes.
"It is important for them," Minogue said.
"One of the things that has helped us with that was the Northern Mariana Islands being unopposed when we had the vote.
"They had lost the vote against Vanuatu for 2017 and wrote to everyone saying they would be back next time.
"I think the Movement thought they deserve it and gave them a clean run at it.
"I think we saw that when we presented the scaled down programme, that there were no complaints from the membership.
"They are prepared to give the Northern Mariana Islands a chance.
"The island of Saipan is quite a big tourist island, there are a lot of tourists from Japan, South Korea and the United States.
"They are very well equipped to looking after visitors, it is a quite well-developed island.
"However some of their schools and facilities we were going to use for the Games were destroyed.
"Once the Governor made the commitment to find the funds to resume their hosting of the Games, they will have no problems doing it.
"Athletes will feel comfortable there."
The multi-sport event is a scaled down version of the Pacific Games, which has seen 26 sports featured here at Samoa 2019.
Palau were confirmed as hosts of the 2025 Pacific Mini Games on Sunday (July 14).
It will be the second time Palau has held the event, with its largest city Koror hosting in 2005.
SOURCE: INSIDE THE GAMES/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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