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By Moneth G. Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Feb. 13) –Acting Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Daisy Villagomez-Bier blames "poor leadership" and "bad timing" for the decision to cancel the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ plans to host this year’s Micronesian Games.

Villagomez-Bier said the CNMI would need at least $750,000, and this is an amount that the government doesn’t have, according to Gov. Benigno R. Fitial.

"The government has no money to spend for the purpose," she said during Friday’s press conference.

Villagomez-Bier, the chairwoman of the games committee, said the $750,000 "can be more or less" because, she added, the true cost of the games has yet to be quantified by sub-committee members despite months of planning for the two-week event slated for June 23-July 7.

The CNMI is expecting at least 1,500 athletes from Micronesian region.

Villagomez-Bier said the combination of "poor leadership and bad timing" convinced the new administration that hosting the games was not possible.

Fitial said some people "don’t really understand the lack of money the CNMI government is experiencing this fiscal year."

Villagomez-Bier, during the press conference on Friday, revealed that she had sent a cancellation letter to the president of the Micronesian Games Council, William Keldermans, on Thursday.

Fitial said Palau and Guam were also informed of the CNMI’s decision.

Villagomez-Bier said besides providing the facilities for the event, the government is also liable for the security and safety of everyone watching the games.

"I know I have no experience with the Micro Games but I have a lot of experience at Northern Marianas College in planning events. Those may not have been of the same magnitude as the Micro Games but I understand and I know what is needed to prepare for any event whether small or big," Villagomez-Bier said.

She said the previous administration’s concept of hosting the games was flawed right from the beginning.

Northern Marianas Amateur Sports Association president Michael A. White said he is deeply disappointed with the governor’s decision to "dishonor" the CNMI’s commitment to host the event.

He said the NMASA was not consulted before the administration made its decision.

He believes that the decision was made on the basis of bad or incomplete information presented to the governor by "certain persons who have little or no appreciation of the role of sports in our community and or the importance of hosting the games for the CNMI and who were committed in advance to canceling the games regardless of the wishes of the community."

February 13, 2006

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