by: Joyce McClure
COLONIA, Yap — For the remote islands of Yap, hosting the 2018 Micronesian Games is a big deal for its 11,000 inhabitants.
When the Micronesian Games Council awarded the hosting of the quadrennial event to Yap in 2014, everyone on island felt like “the little engine that could.” Gov. Tony Ganngiyan said, “Everyone is pulling together, determined to make this the best MicroGames ever. We are humbled to have been chosen to host this important event and are looking forward to welcoming the athletes, coaches and their supporters to our beautiful home.”
“The purpose of the MicroGames is to promote a unique, friendly, world-class sporting event,” said Liyon Sulog, co-chair with Francis Itimai of the 2018 MicroGames Organizing Committee.
“Our theme for 2018 is ‘More Than Just Games,’” added Itimai. “Our three goals are to create pathways and structures for our communities to achieve healthy lifestyles, instill the spirit of volunteerism and develop elite athletes in Yap; to create the infrastructure and logistics needed to host regional events while developing an increased tourism capacity; and to develop local capacity to ensure island food security and
The opening ceremony will take place on July 15, 2018 and the Games will run until July 27. An estimated 1,600 male and female athletes and coaches from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Kiribati, the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam are expected to compete in baseball, basketball, beach volleyball, paddling, soccer, spearfishing, table tennis, track and field, volleyball, weightlifting, wrestling, open water swimming and the Micro All-Around. “The All-Around is the Oceania version of the International Olympics’ multi-sport events,” said Sulog, “but it focuses on competitions unique to Pacific Islanders, such as spear throwing, coconut tree climbing, coconut husking and grating and combined running, swimming and diving.”
Most of the events will take place at Yap Sports Complex with funding support from the FSM National Government, the Yap State Government and contributions from the International Olympics Committee and Oceania National Olympics Committee. The Complex is undergoing upgrades, including new floors for the basketball court and a new surface for the track, valued at $1.8 million. Local schools will be turned into Athletes Villages where competitors will sleep, eat and relax between events.
In addition to government support, commercial sponsorships are being sought at Gold, Silver, Bronze, Supporting and Benefactor levels ranging from $5,000 to more than $75,000. Each level offers a roster of benefits.
“We are very pleased to announce that Diving Seagull Inc. is our first sponsor at the Silver Level with a commitment of $50,000 in cash and gift-in-kind,” said Sulog. “Others are in the pipeline and we anticipate more announcements very soon.”
In addition to volunteer sub-committees, 1,000 local volunteers are being enlisted to ensure the event’s smooth operation. Coaches, referees and other sports officials are being trained for international certification prior to the Games.
“Visitors will come from around the world,” said Jim Tobin, Secretary General of the FSM National Olympic Committee. “Ambassadors from Australia, the U.S., China and Japan, plus heads of state from each participating country, will be in Yap to support the Games and the athletes.”
Challenges do exist for this island state that’s serviced by just two United flights a week from Guam and one from Palau.
“We’re talking with two regional airlines to provide charter flights to ensure that the athletes and coaches get to and from Yap in a timely manner,” said Tobin. “No doubt about it, it will be a challenge, but I’m confident the residents, organizing committee and sub-committees will make it happen.”
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source: Marianas Business Journal