Va'a, along with tennis and weightlifting, has been added to the 2022 Pacific Mini Games programme ©Getty Images

Weightlifting, tennis and va'a have been formally added to the programme for the next Pacific Mini Games, scheduled to take place in June 2022 in the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).

The host nation had been advocating for adding weightlifting and tennis, believing it would boost the CNMI's medal hopes, and outrigger canoe racing has joined the sports in being added to the programme.

The Pacific Games Council (PGC) approved the additions at a meeting in April.

It takes the number of sports to nine - baseball, badminton, athletics, beach volleyball, triathlon and golf were the existing six.

"We’re excited for the expansion of events for the Pacific Mini Games 2022 as it will allow a broader range of athletes to participate," said Ben Babauta, chief executive of the Organising Committee. 

"It’s especially fitting to include outrigger canoe as part of our Pacific island heritage.

"We are also very grateful to the Pacific Games Council for their pledged financial support toward athlete per diems, and we know many countries will also welcome this assistance in sending athletes to the games."

The PGC has committed to funding 12 athlete stipends - worth $450 (£320/€370) each - for all of the 24 participating nations.

It is an investment totaling a fraction less than $130,000 (£92,000/€107,000).

The quadrennial Pacific Mini Games were pushed back from 2021 to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

After Super Typhoon Yutu caused widespread destruction in the CNMI in October 2018, the Government had said it would abandon staging the Pacific Mini Games to focus on the recovery, but that decision was ultimately reversed.

The CNMI Government has committed $4 million (£2.8 million/€3.3 million) towards the event.