Saipan is due to host the 2021 Pacific Mini Games but there are doubts over when they can stage it because of COVID-19 ©Wikipedia

A new date for the Pacific Mini Games in the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) still has to be identfied as uncertainty over the event continues because of COVID-19.

The event was originally scheduled to be held in the capital Saipan in June 2021 but with the Olympic Games postponed by a year because of coronavirus the CNMI were asked to find alternative dates.

Pacific Games Council (PGC) President Vidhya Lakhan had revealed last month that he hoped a date in December 2021 could be found.

But PGC chief executive Andrew Minogue has admitted a final decision still has to be made.

"They have basically closed their schools since March or April of this year...they're due to be reopening for the new school year very soon but whether they can do that or not I don't know," he told Radio New Zealand (RNZ).

"In my discussions with them we need the schools for the Games. It's where we house the athletes and accommodate the delegations, so they're looking at making up time for their school system over the next year or two and that's a complicating factor in trying to find time to stage the Games in a way we can house all the athletes."

The Islands’ Governor Ralph Torres has assured the PGC that the territory, a United States Commonwealth, still plan to hold the Games.

Northern Mariana Islands Governor Ralph Torres has claimed that they still back hosting the Pacific Mini Games ©YouTube
Northern Mariana Islands Governor Ralph Torres has claimed that they still back hosting the Pacific Mini Games ©YouTube

"That's a very encouraging thing because there are events around the world that are having to lose the support of their hosts because of this situation," Minogue said.

"It is a potential out for a host nation of an event to say we can't do it because of the problems of COVID-19, but right at the moment that's not our experience with Saipan."

The CNMI has so far recorded 54 positive coronavirus tests.

There are 10 countries in the world who have yet to record any cases of COVID-19 – all of them in the Pacific.

Minogue is hopeful, that with the main Pacific Games not due to take place until 2023 in the Solomon Islands, one of the countries with no COVID-19 cases, that its programme will be less affected than other areas.

"We're the sense that our next major Games isn't due until 2023 and it would be, I think, conceivable to have the Mini Games postponed by six to 12 months - I think that is achievable," he told RNZ.

"We're lucky in the sense that we got through our main Games last year in Samoa before any of this happened and we've probably got a little bit of time before we have to consider some serious alternatives."