Map credit: SPC


The national sporting body that administers and manages the selection, preparation and participation of Kiribati athletes at the Micronesian Games rests with the Kiribati National Olympic Committee (KNOC).

In recent years, Kiribati has sent contingents to the 2006, 2014 and 2018 editions of the Micronesian Games. There have been variances in national government support but Kiribati athletes have been attending and winning medals.

‍For the national context, it is important to note Kiribati's geographical and economic background. Kiribati is a collation of 32 coral atolls and one raised coral island straddling the equator. It was formerly the Gilbert Islands, became a British protectorate in 1892, and transitioned to colony status in 1915. It was captured by the Japanese in 1941, during the Pacific War of World War II. The British granted self-rule in 1971 then full independence in 1979. Kiribati is now an amalgam of the Line Islands, Phoenix Islands and the former Gilbert Islands.

Kiribati is one of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in the Pacific islands. It has a land area of 811 spread over an ocean area of 3.5 million South Tarawa, with an area of 18 sq. km hosts more than 50% of the total population. Areas such as Betio in South Tarawa have a population density of 15,000 people per sq. km, more than 2.5 times the density of Tokyo, and with none of the required infrastructure. Heath issues such as tuberculosis and leprosy continue to pose a challenge with non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Once rich in phosphate, its deposits were exhausted by the time of independence in 1979. Its chief income is derived from fishing licenses granted to foreign vessels in its EEZ and from seafarer remittances.

‍Since Kiribati has no point above two metres higher than sea level, saltwater inundation, king tides, and sanitation issues remain challenges. This is aggravated by uneven rainfall, depleting freshwater aquifers, and frequent droughts. These issues are compounded by the impacts of climate change, an international issue which Kiribati has lobbied on powerfully in global fora.

The Kiribati economy is dependent on foreign aid and on drawdowns from its sovereign fund, the Revenue Equalisation Reserve Fund (RERF) which is held offshore and used to co-finance the national budget.

Against this background, KNOC continues to strive for the ideals of Olympism, and for the promotion of sport as an agent for change – an item critical to social and economic development in Kiribati.

It is against this backdrop that Kiribati athletes and KNOC work together to prepare and participate in the Micronesian Games.

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