northern marianas

Super Typhoon Yutu initially threatened the Pacific Mini Games in the Northern Mariana Islands. Photo: Getty Images

COVID-19 vaccinations could be made compulsory for those attending next year’s rearranged Pacific Mini Games in the Northern Mariana Islands.

Andrew Minogue, the chief executive of the Pacific Games Council, said no decision has been made on the move but this could change.

“Our message would be to get vaccinated for your own protection, for protection of your family and your community,” he said to RNZ.

“I think that’s a message that all sporting bodies around the world will advocate to their membership and their stakeholders, but as for sort of hard and fast rules around that, we haven’t got to that point yet.

“It may come.

“I don’t think they got there for the Olympics but by June of next year it might be different.”

Saipan was due to host the Pacific Mini Games in June, but they were moved to next year to avoid a clash with the rearranged Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

New dates of between June 17 and 25 next year have been set.

COVID-19 was just the latest factor to disrupt preparations, after Super Typhoon Yutu caused widespread destruction among the islands in October 2018.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Minogue added.

“Obviously there’s still a lot of work to do between now and June next year — but I think we all take great comfort in the fact that Tokyo happened, that an Olympic Games was delivered successfully.

“They kind of showed us all the way and we can see now since Tokyo that, particularly in Europe and the Americas, a lot of sport is opening back up to spectators and to the public and for athletes and teams to be able to move around.

“I think for us next year a remaining challenge is to make sure that we can get athlete representatives from all our countries.”

Under current rules, visitors to Saipan would need to record a negative COVID-19 test and quarantine for five days, even if they are double vaccinated.

Travellers who are unvaccinated need to spend two weeks in managed isolation.

“I’m hopeful that travel will be a lot more freely available by June of next year and we can actually get there from all the countries of the Pacific fairly easily,” said Minogue.

“We will just have to be very careful with how we all manage ourselves on the ground.”

Minogue added that the Pacific Mini Games could learn from Tokyo 2020.

“The way they managed the flow of athletes in and out of venues, how they had them perfectly quarantined in the Games Village,” he said.

“It’s something we’re going to have to work through with the on the ground conditions — things like masks, social distancing, making sure athletes have a plan in terms of where they’re going to go if it’s not at a competition, the Village or the training venue.”

Inside The Games

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