- 2003 Pan American Games
Pan American Gameswere held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republicfrom 1 to 17 August, 2003. The successful bid for the games was made in the mid-1990's, when this country had one of the highest growth rates in Latin America.
All 42 countries and over 6,748 athletes pre-registered for the participation in the XIV Pan American Games. An additional 2,425 trainers and delegates attended. [ [http://panamgames2003.com/news/24.html 41 Countries and 6,748 Athletes Pre-Registered in Pan Am 2003] ]
United Statespre-registered the most at 713 athletes; Saint Luciaentered the least at 6. The host country entered 562 athletes.
The games opened at the new Olympic Stadium before a crowd of 18,000. The exhibition featured some 10,000 performers, some dressed in costumes ranging from skeletons to men in tuxedoes and top hats, typifying a Dominican carnival.
Local baseball heroes
Juan Marichaland Pedro Martínezwere on hand for the ceremony. They completed the final lap of the torch and with Luis Pujols, the nephew of the San Francisco Giantscoach of the same name, dressed in a Dominican baseball uniform, swung a bat at a baseball sitting atop the mini-flame which triggered the cauldron.
The ceremony also was attended by Dominican Republic President
Hipolito Mejia, Pan American Sports Organization president Mario Vasquez Ranaand New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Budget and Venues
The Dominican Republic spent at least $175 million for the 17-day sporting event. Two Olympic parks were built, and laborers were forced to work right up until the opening ceremony because of construction delays, electrical blackouts, and questionable venue quality. In the end, the Dominican Republic produced beautiful and refurbished beautiful new sites.
Although a few logistical incidents occurred (a team was unable to shower when the athletes village lacked water, teams were missing tennis balls or towels), U.S. team chief Roland Betts, commented "At times it has been a great struggle, but we are very excited and proud to see the venues. I believe these venues are as good as or better than any that have been created for the Pan American Games." Other attendees agreed that logistical and venues problems declined greatly during the Games.
* [http://panamgames2003.com/venues/olympic_layout.html Map of Olympic park]
* [http://panamgames2003.com/venues/east_layout.html Map of East venues]
Controversy and local reaction
Numerous protest marches were staged to call attention to austerity measures, including import taxes and spending cuts, and neglect of impoverished areas. During the Games, the protests were banned from the city. However, the Dominicans warmly embraced the Games with pride, especially when local heroes such as
Félix Sánchezwon the 400 meters hurdles gold medal and broke the Pan Am record. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9500EED81431F93BA3575BC0A9659C8B63 Games Lift Spirits in Santo Domingo] ]
While praising the first rate facilities, critics decried the huge cost overruns, the high payroll of the organizers, and concerns over the Dominican Republic's ability to maintain the venues after the Games. [ [http://panamgames2003.com/news/37.html The most costly Pan Am Games ever] ]
The 2003 games marked the return of
waterskiingto the Games. [ [http://www.iwsfranking.com/iwsfextension/PanAmGames03/PanAmGamesTest2003.pdf Setting sites for the Dominican Republic] ]
* [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/more/news/2003/08/01/panam_opening_ap/ Ready or not Pan American Games open in Dominican Republic]
* [http://panamgames2003.com/ Official Site]
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