Lima’s 2019 Pan American and Parapan American Games preparations have hit crisis point following corruption allegations and delays with preparations, with Chilean officials even reportedly having raised the possibility of them replacing Peru as hosts.
Alleged problems arose when Peruvian Congressman Daniel Abugattás accused the Peruvian Olympic Committee (COP) of embezzling PEN1.5 million (£330,000/$550,000/€425,000) when revamping their offices in Lima.
They are also accused of not paying many teaches and abandoning athletes.
In a strongly worded statement posted on their website, accessible in English via translation here, COP have denied the allegations and justified the spending for the offices, although they dispute the alleged figure.
“These statements damage the image of the COP, so we are obliged to issue this statement to clarify issues that hopefully will not seek to distract public opinion in other more sensitive issues related to sport and have been insolvent not only to the COP but also to a group of National Sports Federations,” the message argues.
“The COP has worked to benefit Peru on the international sports agenda; and it is in this desire in which we have been working all these years in which we have always been supported by the Peruvian Government.
“However, these statements are all carrying the image of the country has become damaged and left to Peru on the verge of losing everything achieved.”
Indeed, with the allegations having been supported by other officials, the apparent breakdown in relations between sporting officials and the Peruvian Government is a major concern.
In a more general sense, there are concerns over organisational progress for the Games, 15 months after the Games were awarded to Lima at the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) General Assembly in Toronto.
It has been reported that COP President José Quiñones, also a key organiser in the Lima 2019 Organising Committee, has offered his resignation in response to the allegations.
But insidethegames understands that although he has offered to stand down, this has not yet been accepted, and will be debated further at a meeting later this month.
Lima’s successful Pan American Games bid has been billed as a way for Peru to grow as an organiser of major sporting events, with the city having also been awarded the 2017 IOC Session, in which the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympics will be awarded.
But following these recent problems, some have questioned Lima’s ability to host the region’s showpiece event and Chilean officials have even suggested the Games could instead take place there.
Chilean capital Santiago finished behind Lima in the initial race.
Next week’s General Assembly of the PASO in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico will now be a key step, in which more discussions can be expected to take place.
“I do not want Lima and Peru [to] miss this great opportunity,” Quiñones told RPP Noticias in response to the rumours they would lose the Games
“We are leaving tomorrow [to Mexico] and I’ll be the first to stand up and say that Peru wants to and will host the 2019 Pan American Games.”
The Peruvian Olympic Committee is yet to respond to insidethegames for requests for further clarification.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, insidethegames.