The Oceania islands sub-regional demarcations
The natural descending gradation from Regional to Sub-regional takes Oceania Continent from Pacific Games into the foreign-designed, oft-debated, usually convenient, social and geographical demarcations of Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia.
Given the small, atoll countries of the North Pacific have organised themselves into a semi-regularised system through the Micronesian Games which keeps sporting culture visible, living, and recognised, the absence of the same in Polynesia and Melanesia is stark.
The Micronesian Games
At Pacific Sub-regional Level, the Micronesian Games have been successful in terms of motivating athletes to organise and train (which links to national strength at regional and international games). They are also critical in terms of inspiring physical activity in communities where obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are prevalent.
The Micronesian Games are held quadrennially. The inaugural games were held in Saipan (in Northern Mariana Islands) in 1969 and there was a hiatus of 23 years before the second, also in Saipan. There have been 9 successive games so far with the last hosted by the State of Yap (in the Federated States of Micronesia) in 2018 and the next is to be held in the Marshall islands in 2022. The Micronesian Games recognises traditional and cultural demarcations in that it permits the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) to field teams according to state: Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae and Yap.
Members of the Micronesian Games are: Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and Palau (as independent countries); the Northern Mariana Islands (a commonwealth in union with the US), Guam (an organised territory of the US); and the four states of FSM.
Micronesian Lessons for Oceania
For the rest of the Oceania Continent, there are lessons and considerations to be extracted from the Micronesia Games. Participation spurred by cooperation, friendship, and personal excellence are championed. It restores sport as an agent of cultural exchange and cultural diplomacy.
The sub-regions of Melanesia and Polynesia are yet to organise and implement similar games at some regular level.
Possibility of Melanesian Games?
With the establishment of a Culture Department within the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) expanding the Melanesian trade and economic entity to other areas, sport has been identified as a critical ingredient of society and development and the concept of a Melanesian Games is being developed.
These sub-regional initiatives are important as rungs to wider and larger games at regional and international levels and play a huge role in assisting athletes maintaining fitness and lifelong interest in their sports.
These games are ongoing.
Currently being considered at MSG level.