Pictured: Janelle Pangilinan and Jenine Savellano, Northern Marianas, competing at the 2022 Pacific Mini Games. Photo Credit: Michael Jornal
Badminton Oceania and Northern Marianas Badminton Association (NMBA) are delighted to announce the addition of two new International Challenge tournaments to the BWF Calendar in 2023, taking place back-to-back in June.
|Northern Marianas Open 2023||International Challenge||6 – 11 June 2023||Saipan|
|Saipan International 2023||International Challenge||13 – 18 June 2023||Saipan|
Earlier this year, Northern Marianas hosted the 2022 Pacific Mini Games and badminton was one of nine sports included in the multi-sport programme. Two players (Janelle Pangilinan and Jenine Savellano) delighted the home crown as they collected a historic first Pacific Games medal in badminton (bronze in the women’s doubles), while a network of local personnel was upskilled in event management, administration, umpiring and line judging.
The combined efforts have allowed a legacy to transpire through these tournaments which could see local players competing on the international stage (wildcard prospects) for the first time, further opportunities for the local workforce in officiating and events, alongside a chance for residents to witness world-class badminton – made even more exciting by the fact that both tournaments fall within the Paris 2024 Olympic Games qualification period, which starts on 1 May 2023.
The Northern Marianas Islands is a territory of the United States, sitting within Micronesia – a collection of islands in the northwest region of Oceania, also including Guam (another member association of Badminton Oceania), Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia. Typically, the country is frequented by tourists from East Asia, the closest being the Philippines which is just over a 4-hour flight away.
“This is a fantastic development for our Pacific region and it is exciting to see our long-term goal, to host an international tournament in the region outside of Australia or New Zealand, come to life. To have two back-to-back tournaments in less than a year since hosting the Pacific Mini Games is an incredible legacy achievement. It is also testament to the highly motivated and organised team at Northern Marianas Badminton Association who have inspired several pathways to grow the sport across their country”, says Badminton Oceania CEO, Julie Carrel.
“Some of Badminton Oceania’s Technical Officials and staff attended the Pacific Mini Games and we were all thoroughly impressed by the high standards imposed throughout the Games. We cannot wait for more opportunities to collaborate and welcome players from all over the world to this unique part of Oceania”, says Julie.
“After we made history in June this year by hosting the Pacific Mini Games and winning the NMI’s first medal in a regional competition, the NMBA is highly motivated to ride on this momentum and make more accomplishments for NMI badminton. Now, with two BWF-sanctioned tournaments scheduled to take place in our island next year, we are looking at reaching more milestones. We will be the first in Micronesia to host a BWF event. We are again presented with the opportunity to witness high-level competitions, while our own athletes will also have a chance to challenge highly skilled players. Additionally, hosting the Northern Marianas Open and Saipan International will support the NMI’s sports tourism campaign, as we are looking at welcome players and officials from the Pacific, Oceania, Asia, and hopefully from some other continents too“, says NMBA President, Merlie Tolentino.
“Thank you Badminton Oceania for helping us bring these prestigious competitions in the NMI. We are excited and honored with this great opportunity and are looking forward to getting support from our community as we work together in hosting another successful sports event and showcasing our island hospitality“, says Merlie.
Both tournaments will join Badminton Oceania’s reputable collection of Grade Three tournaments, including the North Harbour International 2023 (25-29 October) and others which will be announced soon.
Also scheduled to take place in Oceania next year are two HSBC BWF World Tour tournaments – Australia Open 2023 (Super 500, from 1-6 August) and New Zealand Open 2023 (Super 300, from 8-13 August).