Peru’s capital city Lima was awarded the 2019 Pan American and Parapan Games after winning in the first round of voting four years after losing out to Toronto for the 2015 event.
They won the right to host the Games for the first time after finishing ahead of Chilean capital Santiago, La Punta in Argentina and Ciudad Bolivar in Venezuela.
Lima justified its position as favorites by polling 31 of the 57 votes available under the Pan American Sports Organization’s (PASO) convoluted electoral system at its 51st General Assembly in Toronto.
That gave them the majority of 29 they required in the first round as Santiago and La Punta got nine each and Ciudad Bolivar eight.
Peruvian supporters erupted when PASO President Mario Vázquez Raña read out that they had won while at home, where the announcement was broadcast live on national television, it sparked much celebration.
The presence of Peru’s Prime Minister Juan Jiménez in Toronto as head of the delegation underlined the importance that they attached to the bid.
“When I took office in 2012, I knew that the Pan American Games in Peru would be a priority for our government,” he had told the delegates.
Santiago had been considered Lima’s main challenger but did not come close despite a moving, if slightly eccentric, presentation which featured miner Luis Urzua, who was the shift commander at the time of the disaster in 2010 which gripped the world for nearly two months.
He told delegates that Chile would run the Games with the same determination they showed in rescuing all 33 miners.
But Lima’s presentation was slicker and more professional than any of its rivals and the passion displayed by José Quiñones, President of the Peruvian National Olympic Committee, who at one point needed to choke back tears, earned them a standing ovation from half the delegates in the hall at the end.
“This is a historic moment for Peru,” Jiménez said. “The Games will do great things for our country and in turn we will do great things for the Pan American family. We look forward to once again welcoming the world of international sport to Lima.”
Among the team that presented to PASO was Renzo Cardenas, a young taekwondo player, who, as a 10-year-old, had also been part of the delegation that was beaten four years ago.
“Today, I’m 14, in 2019, I’ll be 20,” he told delegates. “At that time, I would be a Pan American champion. I firmly believe in my dream. So today millions of young Peruvians share the same dream and we want your support. Believe in us, we won’t let you down.”
Four years ago, at the PASO General Assembly in Guadalajara, Lima had polled only 11 votes as Toronto won with 33, with Bogotá getting seven.
“Four years ago, we made a promise to ourselves to build a strong new platform for sport in the Americas,” Quiñones said. “And we have delivered. We want to thank the PASO family and our fellow member federations for acknowledging our efforts and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.”
The Games are due to take place between July 26 and Aug. 11 in 2019 and will feature 10,000 athletes competing in 36 sports.
Lima’s plan is centered on a two cluster concept, which Peruvian officials claim will both be within a 30-minute radius of the Pan American Village.
The centerpiece of the Games will be at the Miguel Grau Stadium, which is due to undergo a major renovation to become a 70,000 capacity arena which will host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as well as the athletics.
Lima’s Mayor Susana Villarán says he hopes the Games will be a catalyst for helping the city improve its infrastructure and get more youngsters involved in sport.
“The people of Lima are celebrating in the streets as I speak, this is a great day for us,” she said. “Our city is growing very fast, and the Pan American Games will fit perfectly in our plans to create a greater and more connected city in the future.”
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org. Inside the Games is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic Movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.