May 19, 2014

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press

May 13, 2014 Pohnpei, FSM -In a little less than two months the 8th Micronesian Games will begin in Pohnpei. With the exception of the soccer field at the National Campus of the College of Micronesia FSM which may not be ready in time it looks like all systems are go. Organizers have a backup plan for the soccer field so even if it's not ready in time the soccer competitions will go on.

As one of the most visible signs of the preparations for the Micro Games, infrastructure is what most people who don't know discuss when talking about whether preparations for the Games will be complete in time.

Games CEO Robert Spegal stopped by to discuss all aspects of the preparation for the Games. He said that so far everything is on track.

About the COM soccer field he said that the field has been leveled and that coral is now being laid. When that is done more dirt will be laid and leveled. When that is completed, grass will be planted. In order for the field to be useful without becoming a quagmire by the middle of the first game on the field the grass will have to grow pretty quickly. The grass needs to have a fully developed root network before the field can be used.

If the COM field is not ready, the backup plan is to use the PICS field where the Pohnpei team currently practices for the 8th Micro Games. A lot will depend on the weather which is notoriously fickle in Pohnpei. Perhaps it will be more fickle since the Pacific is currently under an El Nino watch. If El Nino does develop, the severity, or arrival time can't yet be predicted. Right now pre El Nino conditions seem to be showing signs of severe El Nino conditions which could arrive in Pohnpei as early as July though that can't be predicted by current weather models.

For the PICS track where track and field events will take place, the Pohnpei Transportation Authority has installed drainage systems and has laid down the necessary asphalt layer for the track itself. Asphalt still needs to be installed for the long and high jump areas but that will soon be done. Containers of rubber material have arrived on island and the materials for the final track layer are scheduled to arrive from Australia during the first week of June at which time installers will make the track happen. Contracts for the companies that will renovate the COM gym are being finalized. One company will handle the installation of the new floor and another will handle window installations. Materials for those projects have not yet arrived on island.

The Spanish Wall softball field will have a new scoreboard and another layer of dirt and sand mix in the infield to help with drainage. Painting was brilliantly coordinated by the Tuna Commission (WCPFC) The Daini baseball field is getting a little leveling in the right field corner and will also get infield leveling.

The Pohnpei State Gym where volleyball events will take place is in its final stages of renovation.

The materials for the final surface on the tennis courts have arrived and will be installed sometime this month.

Next door, the swimming pool is ready and an electronic touch timing system has arrived for installation.

The Micro-All-Around will be held at Spanish Wall park and at Nett Point. Both are ready. Misko Beach will be the spectator area for canoe races. Spegal said that there will be a short course, a long course, and a marathon course which organizers are currently mapping out.

Under the leadership of the accommodation and transportation committee, beautification and rehabilitation of the classrooms and dorms at PICS High School that will serve as the Micro Games Village is underway. Spegal said that it anticipates that 1200 athletes from all of the jurisdiction except for Guam will stay at the Games village at PICS. Guam's athletes will stay at various hotels.

Spegal says that all 10 jurisdictions have said they will send athletes to the Games. The jurisdictions are each of the FSM States, Kiribas, Nauru, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. Spegal estimates that including the athletes, coaches, managers, and officials, 1700-1800 people will be on Pohnpei for the Games, not counting spectators who choose to come.

The accreditation committee has set up a website (www.foxsportspulse.com) that allows for online registration of athletes and others including media participants.

Spegal said that the fund raising committee is still sending out letters requesting funding assistance and that there have been many positive responses. The committee has pending supplemental budget requests with the Pohnpei State Legislature and the FSM Congress. They have urged the two bodies to act on those requests as soon as possible because the money is needed now.

The catering committee has ordered food supplies which will arrive in time for the Games including 13,400 pounds of rice and 770 pounds of pork chops as just a small sample of the orders they have made. The media and broadcasting committee is establishing a media center at PICS for worldwide transmission of the Games and their results. Several media representatives have said they will send crews including Oceania Television from Palau, the Pacific Daily News, and a few freelancers. He expects that many more will come.

Plans have been set up to have a medical response team at each sporting event. Spegal said that he hopes that the US military will respond positively to their request to have medical assistance from the US Armed Forces as well.

He said that the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and Pohnpei Health Services will be conducting what it is calling a health surveillance exercise. For now it's an exercise, but if a contagious disease of any kind should "pop up" during the event they will be prepared to deal with it.

The souvenir committee has been collecting good luck messages from heads of states of each of the jurisdictions and is trying to collect team photographs of each of the teams that will participate in the Games. They will use that material along with other materials to create a Games program. Pages in the program are available for sale. Anyone who wants to help with the production of the program can contact Stephanie Edward at 8mgbooklet@gmail. com.

The protocol committee has been planning an excellent ceremony that will include a huge flag, a skydiver, and other details that are currently secret. They will arrange to meet people at the airport and on their way down the causeway, athletes and others will be greeted by welcoming signs in the main languages of the ten jurisdictions.

They are in the process of planning for all of the many awards ceremonies. The FSMNOC has ordered approximately 1500 awards medals for the winners of the various competitions. The security committee has been making sure that police are ready for the event and have been recruiting security personnel.

Spegal said that many of the sports competition materials have arrived such as baseballs, softballs, chalk, chalk liners, and many other items. More are on their way.

Spegal said that if anyone in the vicinity has living space in the vicinity of Kolonia they can call the Games phone number at 320-3266. Each of the committees has been recruiting their own volunteers but if others want to be involved as a volunteer they can likewise call the Games number 320-3266.

There is still much to be done but preparations for the Games seem to be well in hand.