For the first time in the nearly seven decades of Pan American Games history, Lima will host the most important multi-sport event on the continent this year. For two weeks, about 6,700 athletes from 41 countries will compete in contests offering several qualifying places for Tokyo’s summer event in 2020. The United States is once again the big favorite to lead the standings, with Canada, Brazil, Cuba and Mexico vying for the final podium spots.
AT LIMA 2019, “WE ALL PLAY”
Lima tried to host the Pan American Games of 2015, but lost in the vote against Toronto. Its attempts did not end after that fiasco and, five years ago, the Peruvian bid was more convincing than the one presented by La Punta (Argentina), Santiago (Chile) and Ciudad Bolivar (Venezuela), so the delegates of the Pan American Sports Organization (ODEPA) awarded the headquarters of the XVIII edition of the Games to the Peruvian capital. In this way, Peru joined the select group of 12 countries that have hosted the regional sporting event. Mexico and Canada remain the most experienced nations as both have celebrated three versions, one more than Argentina, Brazil and the United States.
The organizers of Lima 2019 wanted to emphasize in the official video of the Games the idea with which they presented the event: reuniting the different cultures of the continent. The clip is entitled “We all play” and in it, the famous Chasquis of the Inca empire reach different parts of Latin America with invitations to gather and compete in the Peruvian capital.
For Peru, the Games will be very important, not only from the economic point of view, with an investment of over $1.2 billion, but also for the legacy in terms of infrastructure that will become available. For the first time in the history of that South American country there will be official hockey, rowing and canoeing stadiums. In addition, all existing facilities have been remodeled. Once the Pan American Games conclude, the venues will be controlled by the Peruvian Sports Institute and should put to good use in order to prevent them from becoming “white elephants”, as was the case with the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The main facility will be the National Stadium, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the final men and women football match, although most competitions – nine in total – will take place at the Pan American Sports Center. The delegations that will compete in the Games will be housed at Villa El Salvador, a housing complex made up of almost 1,100 apartments, distributed across seven high buildings with 19 to 20 floors. These apartments cost approximately 180 million dollars and will be marketed at the end of the Games.
THE MOST TECHNOLOGICAL PAN AMERICAN GAMES: 4K AND THE CLOUD
Mediapro is the company that will broadcast the Pan American Games and will use the most modern technology to offer 4K quality signal. Organizers hope to reach a global audience of more than 500 million viewers, who would have access to 900 hours of live competition.
For statistical support, Atos Peru, which is the official information technology provider of the Games, said it will offer real-time data analysis, and all its systems will be hosted in the Microsoft Azure cloud. Through these platforms, official journalists will be able to access a greater volume of content, which will facilitate their work.
THE PODIUM AT THE 2019 LIMA PAN AMERICAN GAMES
The Pan American Games in Lima will feature 39 sports, three more than those recognized by the official Olympic program. Among the new additions are surfing, skateboarding, bodybuilding and fronton paddle.
The United States delegation is the clear favorite to assert its dominion in the region, even without calling in their main figures in several sports, such as athletics, basketball, gymnastics and swimming. The Americans won in Toronto 2015 with 103 titles, well ahead of Canada (78) and Brazil (41).
Will we see the same podium spots in Lima? The United States and Canada will have to repeat their performance, but the main battle could be for third place. Cuba took second place in the Pan American Games starting with the Cali games in 1971 to Guadalajara in 2011. However, in Toronto, the decline in Cuban sport and the rising quality of other countries in the region, led by Brazil, produced a change.
This trend was also visible in the Central American and Caribbean Games held in Barranquilla in the Summer of 2018. The Colombian city saw Cuba lose its regional dominion, surpassed by Mexico. In the upcoming games in Lima, Cuban officials hope to improve their Toronto performance, where their athletes won 36 titles, 27 silver medals and 34 bronze medals. Nevertheless, they will be starting with a great disadvantage since Cuba will only compete in 111 of the 426 gold medals listed. Brazil will most likely snatch the third place, while Cuba could receive strong pressure from Mexico and Colombia in the race for the fourth position in the medal count.